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The Noncanonical Pathway for In Vivo Nitric Oxide Generation: The Nitrate-Nitrite-Nitric Oxide Pathway.
Pharmacological Reviews  (IF25.468),  Pub Date : 2020-07-01, DOI: 10.1124/pr.120.019240
V Kapil,R S Khambata,D A Jones,K Rathod,C Primus,G Massimo,J M Fukuto,A Ahluwalia

In contrast to nitric oxide, which has well established and important roles in the regulation of blood flow and thrombosis, neurotransmission, the normal functioning of the genitourinary system, and the inflammation response and host defense, its oxidized metabolites nitrite and nitrate have, until recently, been considered to be relatively inactive. However, this view has been radically revised over the past decade and more. Much evidence has now accumulated demonstrating that nitrite serves as a storage form of nitric oxide, releasing nitric oxide preferentially under acidic and/or hypoxic conditions but also occurring under physiologic conditions: a phenomenon that is catalyzed by a number of distinct mammalian nitrite reductases. Importantly, preclinical studies demonstrate that reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide results in a number of beneficial effects, including vasodilatation of blood vessels and lowering of blood pressure, as well as cytoprotective effects that limit the extent of damage caused by an ischemia/reperfusion insult, with this latter issue having been translated more recently to the clinical setting. In addition, research has demonstrated that the other main metabolite of the oxidation of nitric oxide (i.e., nitrate) can also be sequentially reduced through processing in vivo to nitrite and then nitrite to nitric oxide to exert a range of beneficial effects—most notably lowering of blood pressure, a phenomenon that has also been confirmed recently to be an effective method for blood pressure lowering in patients with hypertension. This review will provide a detailed description of the pathways involved in the bioactivation of both nitrate and nitrite in vivo, their functional effects in preclinical models, and their mechanisms of action, as well as a discussion of translational exploration of this pathway in diverse disease states characterized by deficiencies in bioavailable nitric oxide.