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 inflammatory substances.
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.
Karen Blum | EurekAlert!
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