PloS one

Cytoprotective effects of hydrogen sulfide in novel rat models of non-erosive esophagitis.

PMID 25333941


Non-erosive esophagitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the esophagus and is a form of gastroesophageal reflux disease. There are limited treatment options for non-erosive esophagitis, and it often progresses to Barrett's esophagus and esophageal carcinoma. Hydrogen sulfide has been demonstrated to be a critical mediator of gastric and intestinal mucosal protection and repair. However, roles for H2S in esophageal mucosal defence, inflammation and responses to injury have not been reported. We therefore examined the effects of endogenous and exogenous H2S in rat models of non-erosive esophagitis. Mild- and moderate-severity non-erosive esophagitis was induced in rats through supplementation of drinking water with fructose, plus or minus exposure to water-immersion stress. The effects of inhibitors of H2S synthesis or of an H2S donor on severity of esophagitis was then examined, along with changes in serum levels of a pro- and an anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-17 and IL-10, respectively). Exposure to water-immersion stress after consumption of the fructose-supplemented water for 28 days resulted in submucosal esophageal edema and neutrophil infiltration and the development of lesions in the muscular lamina and basal cell hyperplasia. Inhibition of H2S synthesis resulted in significant exacerbation of inflammation and injury. Serum levels of IL-17 were significantly elevated, while serum IL-10 levels were reduced. Treatment with an H2S donor significantly reduced the severity of esophageal injury and inflammation and normalized the serum cytokine levels. The rat models used in this study provide novel tools for studying non-erosive esophagitis with a range of severity. H2S contributes significantly to mucosal defence in the esophagus, and H2S donors may have therapeutic value in treating esophageal inflammation and injury.