Pharmacologically Important Gases

Naik P.P., Somani R.R, Shirodkar P.Y., Pal T., Kadam V.J.

Abstract: The past two decades have seen an upsurge in interest in the biology of naturally occurring gases, starting with nitric oxide and extending through to carbon monoxide. Nitric oxide has found its worth in the regulatory role of almost all tissues. It has been significant in protecting mesangial cells, as a potent bronchodilator as well as in relieving angina. Similarly carbon monoxide stimulates the synthesis of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10. The latest addition to the list of biologically pertinent gases is hydrogen sulfide. In the past few years, hydrogen sulfide has transited rapidly from environmental pollutant to biologically relevant mediator with potential roles in several physiological processes and disease states. Hydrogen sulphide has been explored for its vasorelaxation action. Thus, these inorganic gases are being considered extensively as gasotransmitters used in molecular and cellular signaling studies. The article gives an insight to the synthesis and the physiological roles of these relevant gases.

Introduction: It was a great surprise for scientific community when the endothelium derived relaxing factor (EDRF) was identified as nitric oxide (NO), a simple inorganic molecule, because all hormones, mediators and neurotransmitters known before were organic compounds. Now there is no doubt that NO plays important regulatory roles in almost all tissues. Soon there after, the second inorganic gaseous compound, carbon monoxide (CO) was recognized as an endogenously produced mediator and neurotransmitter. NO and CO share at least one common mechanism of action, i.e. they stimulate soluble guanylate cyclase and increase intracellular cGMP concentration, although CO is a much weaker activator than NO.1 Recent studies indicate that another “toxic gas”, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), is also produced in substantial amounts by mammalian tissues and exerts many physiological effects suggesting its potential role as a regulatory mediator.


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