Reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide in myocardial ischemia and reperfusion

B. F. Becker, C. Kupatt, P. Massoudy, S. Zahler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Oxygen radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are known to be generated in large amounts under inflammatory conditions and in the first few minutes of postischemic organ reperfusion. Due to the interaction of ROS with nitric oxide (NO), formed constitutively by endothelial cells, two alternatives are feasible. On the one hand, reaction with superoxide radicals may induce toxification (formation of peroxynitrite), and, on the other hand, by reacting with superoxide and hydroxyl radicals, NO can serve as a radical scavenger (formation of the innocuous anions, nitrate and nitrite, respectively). However, NO is considered to play a pivotal role in numerous physiological and pathophysiological processes, with effects arising from both lack and surfeit of this easily diffusible and chemically very reactive molecule. Physiologic contributions to vascular dilatation and inhibition of platelet and leukocyte activation, e.g., are infringed by enhanced inactivation of NO. Such inactivation occurs readily due to spontaneous reaction of NO with the superoxide radical, formed, e.g., by stressed endothelial cells and activated leukocytes. Conversely, overproduction of NO by induced NO synthase (iNOS) may lead to circulatory shock, cell apoptosis or even cell necrosis. Caution would, thus, seem to be warranted when attempting to interfere with homeostasis of NO. We have investigated the ability of NO to act as a radical scavenger during myocardial reperfusion in experimental and clinical settings. In the former, inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme was employed to generate more endogenous NO (via bradykinin), in the latter, low-dose sodium nitroprusside was used as the donor of exogenous NO in patients undergoing coronary bypass grafting. Inhibition of leukocyte adhesion, attenuation of platelet activation and mitigation of redox-stress and inflammation were observed in both instances. Accordingly, modest enhancement of NO levels should afford cardioprotection during reperfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)IX88-IX91
JournalZeitschrift fur Kardiologie
Issue numberSUPPL. 9
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Glutathione
  • Inflammation
  • Leukocyte
  • Nitrate
  • Nitric oxide
  • PMN
  • Peroxynitrite
  • Platelet
  • Superoxide
  • Urate


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