It has been recognized that gaseous molecules and their signaling cascades play a vital role in alterations of metabolic systems in physiologic and pathologic conditions. Contrary to this awareness, detailed mechanisms whereby gases exert their actions, in particular in vivo, have been unclear because of several reasons. Gaseous signaling involves diverse reactions with metal centers of metalloproteins and thiol modification of cysteine residues of proteins. Both the multiplicity of gas targets and the technical limitations in accessing local gas concentrations make dissection of exact actions of any gas mediator a challenge. However, a series of advanced technologies now offer ways to explore gas-responsive regulatory processes in vivo. Imaging mass spectrometry combined with quantitative metabolomics by capillary-electrophoresis/mass spectrometry reveals spatio-temporal profiles of many metabolites. Comparing the metabolic footprinting of murine samples with a targeted deletion of a specific gas-producing enzyme makes it possible to determine sites of actions of the gas. In this review, we intend to elaborate on the ideas how small gaseous molecules interact with metabolic systems to control organ functions such as cerebral vascular tone and energy metabolism in vivo.
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