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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11430-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800700105. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Nitric oxide promotes distant organ protection: evidence for an endocrine role of nitric oxide.

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Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Endothelial NOS (eNOS)-derived NO has long been considered a paracrine signaling molecule only capable of affecting nearby cells because of its short half-life in blood and relatively limited diffusion distance in tissues. To date, no studies have demonstrated that endogenously generated NO possesses a clearly defined endocrine function. Therefore, we evaluated whether enzymatic generation of NO in the heart is capable of modulating remote physiological actions and cell signaling. Mice with cardiac-specific overexpression of the human eNOS gene (CS-eNOS-Tg) were used to address this hypothesis. Cardiac-specific eNOS overexpression resulted in significant increases in nitrite, nitrate, and nitrosothiols in the heart, plasma, and liver. To examine whether the increase in hepatic NO metabolites could modulate cytoprotection, we subjected CS-eNOS-Tg mice to hepatic ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. CS-eNOS-Tg mice displayed a significant reduction in hepatic I/R injury (4.2-fold reduction in the aminotransferase and a 3.5-fold reduction in aspartate aminotransferase) compared with WT littermates. These findings demonstrate that endogenously derived NO is transported in the blood, metabolized in remote organs, and mediates cytoprotection in the setting of I/R injury. This study presents clear evidence for an endocrine role of NO generated endogenously from eNOS and provides additional evidence for the profound cytoprotective actions of NO in the setting of I/R injury.

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