What is nitric oxide (NO)?

2.8 million years of human evolution has resulted in our body’s production of nitric oxide (NO) as a major part of our immune systems and as a messaging molecule throughout the body. Previously seen by scientists as an air pollutant, NO’s production by a wide variety of cells in our bodies was only discovered in the early 1990’s and it's discovery led to a Nobel Prize in 1998.

Why does this small molecule play such a big and diverse role? NO’s broad range of applications can be attributed to the molecule’s high reactivity. It’s able to attack microbes, affect vasodilation to decrease hypertension, and treat viral infection by inhibiting viral replication. 

Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, making it ideal for the treatment of hypertension. iNO is FDA approved for treatment of neonates with pulmonary hypertension. Studies have shown that the administration of iNO during lung transplantation can prevent primary graft failure (PGF), improve oxygenation, and reduce pulmonary hypertension. Due to its antiseptic properties, iNO has been proposed as a treatment for chronic airway infections, especially in diseases like CF, sinusitis, tuberculosis, and COPD where airway infections are common. When added to the sweep gas during open heart surgery and other extracorporeal circulation [ECC] applications, it has been shown to prevent both thrombosis and systemic inflammatory response syndrome by preventing platelet and white blood cell activation. iNO is a promising candidate for treatment across a variety of applications. 

NO activity in the body...

Cardiovascular

System

  • Vasodilation

  • Microvascular tone regulation

  • Leukocyte adhesion

  • Platelet aggregation/inhibition

  • Microvascular permeability

Nervous System
  • Neural protection

  • Neuronal toxicity

  • Neuronal development

  • Neurotransmission

  • Learning; Memory (LTP)

  • Nociception

Immune System

  • Innate immunity

  • Cytotoxic chemical

  • Superoxide radical quenching

  • Cellular injury protection

Respiratory System
  • Bronchial dilation

  • Pulmonary vascular reactivity

  • Alveolar-capillary membrane permeability

Urogenital System
  • Reninsecretion

  • Penile erection

  • Fertilization

  • Spermatogenesis, oogenesis, ovulation

Excretory System

  • Glomerular filtration

  • Renal vasodilation

  • Prevents renal endothelial cell dysfunction

Endocrine System
  • Posterior pituitary hormones gonadotropin hypothalamic releasing factor