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Mol Aspects Med. 2004 Feb-Apr;25(1-2):141-54.

Nitric oxide and iron: effect of iron overload on nitric oxide production in endotoxemia.

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Physical Chemistry-PRALIB, School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Junin 956, C1113AAD Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The amount of iron within the cell is carefully regulated in order to provide an adequate level of micronutrient while preventing its accumulation and toxicity. Iron excess is believed to generate oxidative stress, understood as an increase in the steady-state concentration of oxygen radical intermediates. Nitric oxide (NO) is an inorganic free-radical gaseous molecule which has been shown over the last decade to play an unprecedented variety of roles in biological systems. The effect of nitrogen reactive species may explain the iron sequestration pattern that characterizes macrophages under inflammatory conditions. From a patho-physiological viewpoint, further studies are required to assess the usefulness of this mechanism to minimize formation and release of free radicals in diseased tissues. However, contrary to the deleterious effects of the reactive nitrogen oxide species formed from either NO/O(2) and NO/O(2)(-), it has been pointed out that NO shows antioxidant properties. A number of studies have described the complex relationships between iron and NO, but controversy remains as to the influence and significance of iron on inflammatory NO production. To explore the initial steps of the effects triggered by LPS administration in the presence of excess iron, male Wistar rats were treated with: lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli (serotype 0127:B8) (LPS); iron-dextran; or iron-dextran plus LPS and liver samples were taken after 6 h. EPR spectra of NO-Hb in the venous blood were determined at 77 K. Iron-dextran administered to rats intraperitoneally resulted predominantly in iron uptake by the liver Kupffer cells and led to an increased NO level in blood in the presence of LPS. Further studies will be required to assess the complex role of the Kupffer cells on iNOS induction and NO production.

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