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Nat Med. 2003 Feb;9(2):183-90. Epub 2003 Jan 21.

Carbon monoxide suppresses arteriosclerotic lesions associated with chronic graft rejection and with balloon injury.

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Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Montefiore University Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Carbon monoxide (CO), one of the products of heme oxygenase action on heme, prevents arteriosclerotic lesions that occur following aorta transplantation; pre-exposure to 250 parts per million of CO for 1 hour before injury suppresses stenosis after carotid balloon injury in rats as well as in mice. The protective effect of CO is associated with a profound inhibition of graft leukocyte infiltration/activation as well as with inhibition of smooth muscle cell proliferation. The anti-proliferative effect of CO in vitro requires the activation of guanylate cyclase, the generation of cGMP, the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases and the expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p21Cip1. These findings demonstrate a protective role for CO in vascular injury and support its use as a therapeutic agent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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