Quantification of intermediates formed during the reduction of nitrite by deoxyhemoglobin

Maria T. Salgado, Enika Nagababu, Joseph M. Rifkind

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40 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) plays a crucial role in human physiology by regulating vascular tone and blood flow. The short life-span of NO in blood requires a mechanism to retain NO bioactivity in the circulation. Recent studies have suggested a mechanism involving the reduction of nitrite back to NO by deoxyhemoglobin in RBCs. Arole for RBCs in transporting NO must, however, bypass the scavenging of NO in RBCs by hemoglobin. To understand how the nitrite reaction can deliver bioactive NO to the vasculature, we have studied the intermediates formed during the reaction. A reliable measure of the total concentration of heme-associated nitrite/NO intermediates formed was provided by combining filtration to measure free nitrite by chemiluminescence and electron paramagnetic resonance to measure the final product Hb(II)NO. By modifying the chemiluminescence method used to detect NO, we have been able to identify two intermediates: 1) a heme-associated nitrite complex that is released as NO in acid solution in the presence of ascorbate and 2) an intermediate that releases NO at neutral pH in the presence of ferricyanide when reacted with an Fe(III) ligand like azide. This species designated as "Hb(II)NO+⇆Hb(III)NO" has properties of both isomeric forms resulting in a slower NO dissociation rate and much higher stability than Hb(III)NO, but provides a potential source for bioactive NO, which can be released from the RBC. This detailed analysis of the nitrite reaction with deoxyHb provides important insights into the mechanism for nitrite induced vasodilation by RBCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12710-12718
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 8 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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