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Intensive Care Med. 2012 Aug;38(8):1381-91. doi: 10.1007/s00134-012-2605-1. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Inhalation of NO during myocardial ischemia reduces infarct size and improves cardiac function.

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Institute of Physiology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Bioactive NO carriers in circulating blood formed during NO inhalation selectively distribute blood flow to areas in need, and may thus improve collateral perfusion to the area-at-risk in acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Here, we tested the hypothesis that NO inhalation during the ischemic phase of AMI may improve left ventricular function and reduce infarct size in rats.


Following left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) occlusion, rats received 50 ppm NO for 2 h of ischemia, during subsequent 3 h of reperfusion, or for 5 h of ischemia and reperfusion. Effects of inhaled NO were compared to those of intravenous nitrite as a putative carrier formed during NO inhalation. Downstream signaling via soluble guanylate cyclase was tested by inhibition with 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ).


NO inhalation during myocardial ischemia increased left ventricular systolic pressure, contractility, relaxation, and cardiac output, and reduced myocardial infarction size and area-at-risk as compared to untreated controls. NO inhalation during the reperfusion phase caused a comparable protective effect. Combined inhalation during ischemia and reperfusion did not further improve left ventricular hemodynamics, but had an additive protective effect on the myocardial area-at-risk. NO inhalation increased circulating nitrite levels, and mimicking of this effect by intravenous nitrite infusion achieved similar protection as NO inhalation during myocardial ischemia, while ODQ blocked the protective NO effect.


Inhalation of NO during myocardial ischemia improves left ventricular function and reduces infarct size by mechanisms that increase levels of circulating nitrite and involve soluble guanylate cyclase. NO inhalation may represent a promising early intervention in AMI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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