Related topics: high blood pressure · blood vessels

Microbes can grow on nitric oxide

Nitric oxide is a fascinating and versatile molecule, important for all living things as well as our environment. It is highly reactive and toxic; it is used as a signaling molecule; it depletes the ozone layer in our planet's ...

What happens to the brain in zero gravity?

NASA has made a commitment to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. This is an ambitious goal when you think that a typical round trip will anywhere between three and six months and crews will be expected to stay on the red planet ...

Minimizing ammonia fuel emissions

New simulations indicate that swirling ammonia in combustion chambers can help reduce harmful emissions – insight that may help on-going efforts to develop ammonia as a carbon-free fuel source.

Exploring greener approaches to nitrogen fixation

About half of the nitrogen in our bodies today comes from bacteria via the enzyme nitrogenase, which converts, or "fixes," unreactive nitrogen gas in the atmosphere into a form that plants can use for growth. The other half ...

Image: Airway monitoring experiment for astronauts

In recognition of World Asthma Day, here is ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst preparing to take preflight measurements for the Airway Monitoring experiment, which looks into inflammation of the airway.

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Nitric oxide

Nitric oxide or nitrogen monoxide is a chemical compound with chemical formula NO. This gas is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals, including humans, and is an extremely important intermediate in the chemical industry. It is also an air pollutant produced by cigarette smoke, automobile engines and power plants.

NO is an important messenger molecule involved in many physiological and pathological processes within the mammalian body both beneficial and detrimental. Appropriate levels of NO production are important in protecting an organ such as the liver from ischemic damage. However sustained levels of NO production result in direct tissue toxicity and contribute to the vascular collapse associated with septic shock, whereas chronic expression of NO is associated with various carcinomas and inflammatory conditions including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and ulcerative colitis.

Nitric oxide should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), a general anaesthetic and greenhouse gas, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is another air pollutant. The nitric oxide molecule is a free radical, which is relevant to understanding its high reactivity.

Despite being a simple molecule, NO is a fundamental player in the fields of neuroscience, physiology, and immunology, and was proclaimed “Molecule of the Year” in 1992.

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