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Mol Cell Biochem. 1997 Sep;174(1-2):189-92.

Nitric oxide inhibition of cytochrome oxidase and mitochondrial respiration: implications for inflammatory, neurodegenerative and ischaemic pathologies.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK.


Nitric oxide (NO) at high levels is cytotoxic, and may be involved in a range of inflammatory, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular/ischaemic pathologies. The mechanism of NO-induced cytotoxicity is unclear. Recently we and others have found that low (nanomolar) levels of NO reversibly inhibit mitochondrial respiration by binding to the oxygen binding site of cytochrome oxidase in competition with oxygen. This raises the apparent K(m) for oxygen of mitochondrial respiration into the physiological range, potentially making respiration sensitive to the oxygen level. The NO inhibition of oxygen consumption was seen in isolated cytochrome oxidase, mitochondria, brain nerve terminals, and cultured cells. Cultured astrocytes activated to express the inducible from of NO synthase produced up to 1 microM NO and strongly inhibited their own cellular respiration rate. This respiratory inhibition was rapidly reversed by removing the NO, and was due to the inhibition of cytochrome oxidase. These results suggest that any cell producing high levels of NO will inhibit its own respiration and that of surrounding cells, and make the respiration rate sensitive to the oxygen level. This inhibition of energy metabolism may contribute to cytotoxicity or cytostasis in some pathologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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