Hopkins researchers discover how nitric oxide prevents blood vessel
A few years ago when I had extensive dental work done my dentist
administered nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas) to put me in a state
of semi euphoria while I was in the chair for up to two hours at time.
Johns Hopkins scientists investigating nitric oxide (NO) - the molecular
messenger that contributes to body functions as wide-ranging as cell
death, new blood vessel growth and erections - have figured out how it
can block blood vessel inflammation and prevent clotting, a process that
has long stumped biologists.
Reporting in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Cell, cardiologist Charles
J. Lowenstein, M.D., and his team observed that NO has the power to
inhibit endothelial cells lining blood vessels from releasing
Normally, these cells activate a process called exocytosis (a release of
substances) to start inflammation, releasing packets of molecules into
the bloodstream that, like tiny hand grenades, explode and discharge
compounds that trigger inflammation. NO can move in and target a protein
within the endothelial cells, N-ethylmaleimide-Sensitive Factor (NSF),
that stops the process from happening by blocking the ability of NSF to
push out the molecules.
"Nitric oxide may regulate exocytosis this way in a variety of
diseases," says Lowenstein, an associate professor of medicine at
Hopkins. "For example, nitric oxide blocks exocytosis from platelets,
preventing blood clots; exocytosis from neurons, decreasing
neurotoxicity in strokes; and exocystosis from lymphocytes, reducing
Arginine is normally labeled as L-arginine, the naturally occurring form of the amino acid.
If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, angina or other risks of heart disease you should give strong consideration to taking arginine.