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Myocardial protection by nitrite

John W. Calvert, David J. Lefer
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvp079 195-203 First published online: 27 February 2009


Nitrite has long been considered to be an inert oxidative metabolite of nitric oxide (NO). Recent work, however, has demonstrated that nitrite represents an important tissue storage form of NO that can be reduced to NO during ischaemic or hypoxic events. This exciting series of discoveries has created an entirely new field of research that involves the investigation of the molecular, biochemical, and physiological activities of nitrite under a variety of physiological and pathophysiological states. This has also led to a re-evaluation of the role that nitrite plays in health and disease. As a result there has been an interest in the use of nitrite as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction. Nitrite therapy has now been studied in several animal models and has proven to be an effective means to reduce myocardial ischaemia–reperfusion injury. This review article will provide a brief summary of the key findings that have led to the re-evaluation of nitrite and highlight the evidence supporting the cardioprotective actions of nitrite and also highlight the potential clinical application of nitrite therapy to cardiovascular diseases.

  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitrite
  • Cardioprotection
  • Myocardial ischaemia
  • Acute myocardial infarction
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