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What is Nitric Oxide? And why should I care.

Nitric oxide (nitrogen oxide,[3] nitrogen monoxide)

Nitric oxide or NO has become one of the most studied molecules in the scientific and medical literature.  Although only relatively recently was it discovered to be produced in the human body, the chemical properties of NO gas were first characterized in 1772.  Indeed, there have been over 140,000 publications on NO, more than half of which have appeared in the last 12 years.  NO produced in biological systems has a half-life of less than 1 second and is biologically active in the concentration range from 1-100nM.  Another interesting feature is that NO is lipophilic so that it can readily permeate biological membranes.  The concept of a gas selectively and specifically mediating cell signaling events is unlike the conventional receptor ligand concepts associated with cell signaling. 

These discoveries were so revolutionary that the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro, and Ferid Murad, for their discoveries of NO as a signal molecule in the vasculature and specifically in the control of blood pressure. In addition to this role, NO is one of the most important signaling molecules in the body, and is involved in virtually every organ system where it is responsible for modulating an astonishing variety of effects.  NO has been shown to be involved in and affect (just to list a few major examples) neurotransmission, memory, stroke, glaucoma and neural degeneration, pulmonary hypertension, penile erection, angiogenesis, wound healing, atherogenesis, inflammation such as arthritis, nephritis, colitis, autoimmune diseases (diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease), invading pathogens, tumors, asthma, tissue transplantation, septic shock, platelet aggregation and blood coagulation, sickle cell disease, gastrointestinal motility, hormone secretion, gene regulation, hemoglobin delivery of oxygen, insulin signaling and diabetes, stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and bronchodilation.  One can then begin to appreciate then the many consequences of the loss of the production of nitric oxide.

It is the mission of this Society to advance the field of nitric oxide.  There have been many discoveries and innovations in the nitric oxide field with regards to diagnostics and therapeutics.  Many of these discoveries stem from members of the NO Society.  We now have an appreciation for how the body makes NO, what goes wrong in patients or subjects that can’t make NO and through emerging science and research are beginning to understand how to therapeutically fix the underlying problems of NO deficiency.  Although NO is widely recognized and appreciated in the scientific and medical community, there is still very little awareness around NO by patients and consumers.  We will always keep the information on this website up to date with the latest research and breakthroughs in nitric oxide science.