The potential role of nitric oxide in multiple sclerosis

  • Giovannoni G
  • Heales S
  • Land J
 et al. 
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Abstract

Nitric oxide (.NO) and its reactive derivative peroxynitrite (ONOO-) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). They are cytotoxic to oligodendrocytes and neurones in culture by inhibiting the mitochondrial respiratory chain (complexes II/III and IV) and inhibiting certain key intracellular enzymes. Recently .NO has been implicated as a possible aetiological factor in reversible conduction block in demyelinated axons. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is upregulated in the central nervous system of animals with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) and in patients with MS. In some EAE models inhibiting iNOS activity decreases disease severity whilst in other models disease activity is exacerbated. Raised levels of nitrate and nitrite, stable end-products of .NO/ONOO-, are found in the cerebrospinal fluid, serum and urine of patients with MS. CSF levels of nitrate and nitrite correlate with blood-brain-barrier dysfunction, which suggests that .NO may play a role in inflammatory blood-brain-barrier dysfunction. In a longitudinal study on 24 patients with relapsing remitting and secondary progressive MS, raised serum nitrate and nitrite levels correlated with a relapsing course and infrequent relapses. However, no correlation was found between raised serum levels of nitrate and nitrite and MRI activity, disease progression, or the development of cerebral atrophy. In autoimmune mediated CNS demyelinating disease .NO may be a double-edged sword, mediating tissue damage on the one hand and on the other hand modulating complex immunological functions which may be protective.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental/physio
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators/*physiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis/*physiopathology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase/metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide/biosynthesis/*physiology

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Authors

  • G Giovannoni

  • S J Heales

  • J M Land

  • E J Thompson

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