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Br J Pharmacol. 1992 Jul;106(3):507-8.

Dependence of the metabolism of nitric oxide (NO) in healthy human whole blood on the oxygenation of its red cell haemoglobin.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology, Gothenburg University, Sahlgrenska Hospital, Sweden.


Plasma or whole venous or arterialized blood from healthy human donors was incubated with NO (50-300 microM), and the resulting formation of methaemoglobin (MetHb), nitrosyl haemoglobin (HbNO), and plasma nitrite and nitrate were measured. In plasma, NO was converted to nitrite and nitrate in a ratio of 5:1. In arterial blood (O2 sat. 94-99%) NO was almost quantitatively converted to nitrate and MetHb. No nitrite was detected and HbNO formation was low. In venous blood (O2 sat. 36-85%) more HbNO and less nitrate was formed, in comparison to arterialized blood. We propose that NO liberated from endothelium of conductance and resistance vessels is taken up by red blood cells and inactivated by HbO2 via stoichiometric conversion to MetHb and nitrate.

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