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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Mar 1;1504(1):46-57.

Regulation of mitochondrial respiration by nitric oxide inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QW, UK.


Nitric oxide (NO) and its derivatives inhibit mitochondrial respiration by a variety of means. Nanomolar concentrations of NO immediately, specifically and reversibly inhibit cytochrome oxidase in competition with oxygen, in isolated cytochrome oxidase, mitochondria, nerve terminals, cultured cells and tissues. Higher concentrations of NO and its derivatives (peroxynitrite, nitrogen dioxide or nitrosothiols) can cause irreversible inhibition of the respiratory chain, uncoupling, permeability transition, and/or cell death. Isolated mitochondria, cultured cells, isolated tissues and animals in vivo display respiratory inhibition by endogenously produced NO from constitutive isoforms of NO synthase (NOS), which may be largely mediated by NO inhibition of cytochrome oxidase. Cultured cells expressing the inducible isoform of NOS (iNOS) can acutely and reversibly inhibit their own cellular respiration and that of co-incubated cells due to NO inhibition of cytochrome oxidase, but after longer-term incubation result in irreversible inhibition of cellular respiration due to NO or its derivatives. Thus the NO inhibition of cytochrome oxidase may be involved in the physiological and/or pathological regulation of respiration rate, and its affinity for oxygen.

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