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Nitric Oxide Key Player in Cell Function

Study reveals more about its role in vital activities

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A study by Duke University Medical Center researchers sheds new light on the role nitric oxide plays in the functioning of cellular machinery.

They found nitric oxide, a molecule that occurs naturally throughout the human body, plays a major role in assembling protein networks that direct fundamental cellular activities, such as whether cells live or die.

Cell death is linked to a number of human health problems, including heart failure, Alzheimer's disease and asthma. By understanding the role of nitric oxide, researchers hope to gain new understanding into the underlying causes of those and other diseases.

The study appears in the Aug. 1 issue of Science.

In earlier research, the Duke scientists discovered that nitric oxide molecules attach to hemoglobin molecules in blood cells. That influences oxygen delivery to tissues.

The new findings suggest a broader role for nitric oxide in that the molecule influences interactions of a wide number of proteins.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about how cells function.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Aug. 1, 2003
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