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Nitric Oxide. 2006 Feb;14(1):21-9. Epub 2005 Sep 26.

Potential application of gaseous nitric oxide as a topical antimicrobial agent.

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Department of Surgery, BC Professional Fire Fighter's Burn/Wound Healing Lab, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The presence of bacterial colonization in non-healing wounds and burn injuries interferes significantly with the normal process of healing. Recent evidence suggests that nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in host defense against infection and regulates wound healing and angiogenesis. We investigated the potential application of a medical-grade gaseous form of NO (gNO) as a novel antibacterial agent in wound infection. Using a continuous horizontal-flow delivery system, the antibacterial activity of gNO was tested in vitro against a range of pathogens, including clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S. aureus, Escherichia coli, Group B Streptococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans. To probe the effect of topical application of gNO on the human skin, the proliferation and extracellular matrix gene expression of human dermal fibroblasts in culture were also analyzed by (3)H-thymidine incorporation assay and Northern blot techniques, respectively. Potent bacteriocidal activity was observed at 200 ppm gNO with an average of 4.1 +/- 1.1 h to completely stop bacterial growth. Interestingly, this dose of gNO did not show any cytotoxic effect in human dermal fibroblasts in culture exposed for up to 48 h. Analysis of gene transcription in fibroblasts revealed a significant increase in MMP-1 mRNA expression as early as 2 h post-exposure to gNO. Although to a lesser degree, a significant reduction in type I procollagen was also observed in the same fibroblasts. The results of this study suggest that exogenous gaseous NO has potent significant antibacterial properties that can be beneficial in reducing bacterial burden in infected wound in burn injuries or non-healing ulcers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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