Nitrite consumption in ischemic rat heart catalyzed by distinct blood-borne and tissue factors

Patrick H. McNulty, Sophia Scott, Valerie Kehoe, Mark Kozak, Lawrence I. Sinoway, Jinhua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) may limit myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by slowing the mitochondrial metabolism. We examined whether rat heart contains catalysts potentially capable of reducing nitrite to NO during an episode of regional myocardial ischemia produced by temporary coronary artery occlusion. In intact Sprague-Dawley rats, a 15-min coronary occlusion lowered the nitrite concentration of the myocardial regions exhibiting ischemic glucose metabolism to ∼50% that of nonischemic regions (185 ± 223 vs. 420 ± 203 nmol/l). Nitrite was rapidly repleted during subsequent reperfusion. The heart tissue tested in vitro acquired a substantial ability to consume nitrite when made hypoxic at neutral pH, and this ability was slightly enhanced by simultaneously lowering the pH to 5.5. More than 70% of this activity could be abolished by flushing the coronary circulation with crystalloid to remove trapped erythrocytes. Correspondingly, erythrocytes demonstrated the ability to reduce exogenous nitrite to NO under hypoxic conditions in vitro. In erythrocyte-free heart tissue, the nitrite consumption increased fivefold when the pH was lowered to 5.5. Approximately 40% of this pH-sensitive increase in nitrite consumption could be blocked by the xanthine oxidoreductase inhibitor allopurinol, whereas lowering the PO2 sufficiently to desaturate myoglobin accelerated it further. We conclude that rat heart contains several factors capable of catalyzing ischemic nitrite reduction; the most potent is contained within erythrocytes and activated by hypoxia, whereas the remainder includes xanthine oxidoreductase and other pH-sensitive factors endogenous to heart tissue, including deoxymyoglobin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2143-H2148
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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