DURHAM, N.C. -- A new study by Duke University researchers provides more evidence that the nitric oxide (NO) system in the life of a cell plays a key role in disease, and the findings point to ways to improve treatment of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
The nitric oxide system in cells is a major biological signaling pathway that has been missed with regard to the way it controls proteins, and it is linked to cancer and other diseases when the system goes awry, said Jonathan Stamler, M.D., a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center who worked on the study.
In the body, nitric oxide plays a role in the transport of oxygen to tissues and physiological activities such as the transmission of nerve impulses, and the beating of the heart. When things go awry with the nitric oxide system, bad things can happen in bodies, according to recent studies. For instance, there may be too little nitric oxide in atherosclerosis and there may be too much in Parkinsons disease; there may not be enough nitric oxide in sickle cell disease and there may be too much in some types of diabetes, Stamler said.
The new findings, which Stamler said change understanding of how the nitric oxide system is controlled, appear in the May 23 issue of the journal Science.
What we see now for the first time in the Science paper is that there are enzymes that are removing NO from proteins to control protein activity, Stamler said. This action has a broad-based effect, frankly, and probably happens in virtually all cells and across all protein classes. Nitric oxide is implicated in many disease processes. Sepsis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, Parkinsons disease, heart failure, malignant hyperthermia -- all of these diseases are linked to aberrant nitric-oxide-based signaling.
An important factor that previously wasnt appreciated, he said, is that the target of nitric oxide in disease is different in every case. The f
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Duke University Medical Center