Hemorrhagic shock and nitric oxide release from erythrocytic nitric oxide synthase: A quantitative analysis

Kejing Chen, Roland N. Pittman, Aleksander S. Popel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A large loss of blood during hemorrhage can result in profound shock, a state of hypotension associated with hemodynamic abnormalities. One of the hypotheses to account for this collapse of homeostasis is that the production of nitric oxide (NO), a gas molecule that dilates blood vessels, is significantly impaired during hemorrhage, resulting in a mismatch between O2 delivery and the metabolic activity in the tissues. NO can be released from multiple sources in the vasculature. Recent studies have shown that erythrocytes express functional endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS3), which potentially serves as an intraluminal NO source. NO delivery from this source is complex: erythrocytes are not only NO producers but also act as potent sinks because of the high affinity of NO for hemoglobin. To test our hypothesis that the loss of erythrocytic NOS3 during hemorrhage contributes to NO deficiency-related shock, we have constructed a multicellular computational model that simulates NO production and transport to allow us to quantify the loss of NO under different hemorrhagic conditions. Our model shows that: (1) during mild hemorrhage and subsequent hemodilution (hematocrit > 30%), NO from this intraluminal source is only slightly decreased in the vascular smooth muscle, but the NO level is significantly reduced under severe hemorrhagic conditions (hematocrit < 30%); (2) whether a significant amount of NO from this source can be delivered to vascular smooth muscle is strongly dependent on the existence of a protective mechanism for NO delivery; (3) if the expression level of NOS3 on erythrocytes is similar to that on endothelial cells, we estimate ∼ 13 pM NO at the vascular smooth muscle from this source when such a protective mechanism is involved. This study provides a basis for detailed studies to characterize the impairment of NO release pathways during hemorrhage and yield important insights for the development of resuscitation methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-118
Number of pages12
JournalMicrovascular Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Computational model
  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Erythrocyte
  • Hemorrhage
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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