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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 10;97(21):11482-7.

Role of circulating nitrite and S-nitrosohemoglobin in the regulation of regional blood flow in humans.

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  • 1Critical Care Medicine Department of the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


To determine the relative contributions of endothelial-derived nitric oxide (NO) vs. intravascular nitrogen oxide species in the regulation of human blood flow, we simultaneously measured forearm blood flow and arterial and venous levels of plasma nitrite, LMW-SNOs and HMW-SNOs, and red cell S-nitrosohemoglobin (SNO-Hb). Measurements were made at rest and during regional inhibition of NO synthesis, followed by forearm exercise. Surprisingly, we found significant circulating arterial-venous plasma nitrite gradients, providing a novel delivery source for intravascular NO. Further supporting the notion that circulating nitrite is bioactive, the consumption of nitrite increased significantly with exercise during the inhibition of regional endothelial synthesis of NO. The role of circulating S-nitrosothiols and SNO-Hb in the regulation of basal vascular tone is less certain. We found that low-molecular-weight S-nitrosothiols were undetectable and S-nitroso-albumin levels were two logs lower than previously reported. In fact, S-nitroso-albumin primarily formed in the venous circulation, even during NO synthase inhibition. Whereas SNO-Hb was measurable in the human circulation (brachial artery levels of 170 nM in whole blood), arterial-venous gradients were not significant, and delivery of NO from SNO-Hb was minimal. In conclusion, we present data that suggest (i) circulating nitrite is bioactive and provides a delivery gradient of intravascular NO, (ii) S-nitroso-albumin does not deliver NO from the lungs to the tissue but forms in the peripheral circulation, and (iii) SNO-Hb and S-nitrosothiols play a minimal role in the regulation of basal vascular tone, even during exercise stress.

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