Nitrite as a Physiological Source of Nitric Oxide and a Signalling Molecule in the Regulation of the Cardiovascular System in Both Mammalian and Non-Mammalian Vertebrates

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The circulating anion nitrite (NO2¯) has long been considered an inert oxidative metabolite of nitric oxide (NO). Over the last decade several studies have identified inorganic nitrite as a key player in many biological processes because it acts both as a principal storage source of NO and as a signalling molecule distinct from its link with NO. This new field of research involves the exploration of the molecular, biochemical, and physiological activities of nitrite under a variety of physiological and pathophysiological states. As a signalling molecule, nitrite is involved in various biological responses, including hypoxic vasodilation, inhibition of mitochondrial respiration, cytoprotection following ischemia/reperfusion and regulation of protein and gene expression. As a stored form of NO, since the cardiovascular system is under an important NO-mediated autocrine-paracrine control, intensive investigations involve nitrite effects on vessel and heart regulation. Recently, some authors have reported that nitrite, through both direct and indirect pathways, plays a fundamental role in vascular homeostasis and cardiac function not only in mammals but also in non-mammalian species (fish, amphibians). This review highlights some patents and the importance of the signalling properties of nitrite anion in a comparative vertebrate context for providing significant insights on “ancestral” functions of the nitrite-NO system, which may facilitate its potential use as a therapeutic agent of cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Nitric oxide; Nitrite; cardioprotection; mammals; non-mammalian species

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Recent Patents on Cardiovascular Drug Discovery publishes review articles on recent patents in the field of cardiovascular drug discovery e.g. novel bioactive compounds, analogs & targets. A selection of important and recent patents on cardiovascular drug discovery is also included in the journal. The journal is essential reading for all researchers involved in cardiovascular drug design and discovery.
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