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J Biol Chem. 2004 Mar 19;279(12):11065-73. Epub 2004 Jan 2.

Nitrosyl-heme complexes are formed in the ischemic heart: evidence of nitrite-derived nitric oxide formation, storage, and signaling in post-ischemic tissues.

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Center for Biomedical EPR Spectroscopy and Imaging, the Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


In addition to the generation from specific nitric-oxide (NO) synthases, NO formation from nitrite occurs in ischemic tissues, such as the heart. Although NO binding to heme-centers is the basis for NO-mediated signaling as occurs through guanylate cyclase, it is not known if this process is triggered with physiologically relevant periods of sublethal ischemia and if nitrite serves as a critical substrate. Therefore electron paramagnetic resonance studies were performed to measure nitrosylheme formation during the time course of myocardial ischemia and reperfusion and the role of nitrite in this process. Rat hearts were either partially nitrite-depleted by nitrite-free buffer perfusion or nitrite-enriched by preinfusion with 50 microm nitrite. Ischemic hearts loaded with nitrite showed prominent spectra of six-coordinate nitrosyl-heme complexes, primarily NO-myoglobin, that increased as a function of ischemic duration, whereas in nonischemic-controls these signals were not seen. Total nitrosyl-heme concentrations within the heart were 6.6 +/- 0.7 microm after 30 min of ischemia. Nitrite-depleted hearts also gave rise to NO-heme signals during ischemia, but levels were 8-fold lower. Nitrite-mediated NO-heme complex formation during ischemia was associated with activation of guanylate cyclase. Upon reperfusion, the levels of NO-heme complexes decreased 3-fold by the first 15 min but remained elevated for over 45 min. The decrease in NO-heme complex levels was paralleled by the formation of nitrate, suggesting the oxidation of heme-bound NO upon reperfusion. Thus, nitrite-mediated NO-heme formation occurs progressively during ischemia, with these complexes serving as a store of NO with concordant activation of NO signaling pathways.

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