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Pharmacological Modulation of Nitric Oxide Release: New Pharmacological Perspectives, Potential Benefits and Risks

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Nitric oxide is becoming an increasingly important signalling molecule implicated in a growing number of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Moreover, with the recent advances in nitric oxide biochemistry, many well known drugs have been shown to act totally or partially by modulating NO metabolism with varying therapeutic results. The classic organic nitrates have been shown to exhibit beneficial therapeutic but suffer from some well known pitfalls (tolerability induction, abrupt cephalea and hypotension). Similarly, sydnonimines, another well known class of NO donor drugs, have a characteristically low therapeutic index (i.e., cyanide toxicity).

At present, pharmacological researchers are designing and synthesising various chemical compounds capable of modulating NO metabolism for therapeutic purposes that also possess an optimal therapeutic index.

Specifically, various new classes of NO donors are under intense pharmacological investigation (such as S-nitrosothiols, diazeniumdiolates, furoxans, zeolites and so on), each characterised by a particular pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile. To know the pharmacological development of these new NO donor drugs could help to ameliorate the use of these molecules in various therapeutic protocols. In fact, the pharmacologically modulated nitric oxide release showed to have an important therapeutic impact in the treatment of diseases such as arteriopathies, various acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, and several degenerative diseases. At present, the most important obstacle in the field of new NO donor drugs seems to be carefully targeting NO release to a particular tissue at an optimal concentration, so as to achieve a beneficial action and to limit possible toxic effects.
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Keywords: Nitric oxide donors; biochemical pharmacology; cancer; cardiovascular diseases; degenerative diseases; immune system; mitochondria; nitric oxide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Laboratory Medicine, Catholic University, Largo A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy.

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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