Nitrite, a naturally occurring precursor of nitric oxide that acts like a ‘prodrug’

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Abstract

There are enzymatic and non-enzymatic mechanisms that generate NO• from nitrite in blood, stomach, saliva, urine and skin. In blood vessels, nitrite-derived NO• can provide protection via compensatory vasodilation during hypoxia, and in various body fluids it may have antibacterial activity. In the skin, nitrite-derived NO• may contribute to skin tanning, as well as to protection against UV-induced cell damage. Current knowledge on nitrite acting like an NO• ‘prodrug’ is presented, emphasizing the role of nitrite in skin.

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