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Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 Nov 1;33(9):1186-93.

The role of mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase in inflammation and septic shock.

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  • 1Laboratory of Free Radical Biology, School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Nitric oxide and cytokines constitute the molecular markers and the intercellular messengers of inflammation and septic shock. Septic shock occurs with an exacerbated inflammatory response that damages tissue mitochondria. Skeletal muscle appears as one of the main target organs in septic shock, showing an increased nitric oxide (NO) production, an early oxidative stress, and contractile failure. Mitochondria isolated from rat and human skeletal muscle in septic shock show a markedly increased NO generation and a decreased state 3 respiration, more marked with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-linked substrates than with succinate, without uncoupling or impairment of phosphorylation. One of the current hypothesis for the molecular mechanisms of septic shock is that the enhanced NO production by mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase (mtNOS) leads to excessive peroxynitrite (ONOO(-)) production and protein nitration in the mitochondrial matrix, to mitochondrial dysfunction and to contractile failure. Surface chemiluminescence is a useful assay to assess inflammation and oxidative stress in in situ liver and skeletal muscle. Liver chemiluminescence in inflammatory processes and phagocyte chemiluminescence have been found spectrally different from spontaneous liver chemiluminescence with increased 440-600 nm emission, likely due to NO and ONOO(-) participation in the reactions leading to the formation of excited species.

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