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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Jan;64(1):96-103.

Nitric oxide synthase reduces nitrite to NO under anoxia.

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Department of Interface Physics, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Cultured bEND.3 endothelial cells show a marked increase in NO production when subjected to anoxia, even though the normal arginine pathway of NO formation is blocked due to absence of oxygen. The rate of anoxic NO production exceeds basal unstimulated NO synthesis in normoxic cells. The anoxic release of NO is mediated by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), can be abolished by inhibitors of NOS and is accompanied by consumption of intracellular nitrite. The anoxic NO release is unaffected by the xanthine oxidase inhibitor oxypurinol. The phenomenon is attributed to anoxic reduction of intracellular nitrite by eNOS, and its magnitude and duration suggests that the nitrite reductase activity of eNOS is relevant for fast NO delivery in hypoxic vascular tissues.

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