Nitric oxide (NO) is a radical molecule that not only serves as a vasodilator and neurotransmitter but also acts as a cytotoxic effector molecule of the immune system. The inducible enzyme making NO, inducible NO synthase (iNOS), is transcriptionally activated by IFN-γ and TNF-α, cytokines which are produced during vital infection. We show that iNOS is induced in mice infected with the Coxsackie B3 virus. Macrophages expressing iNOS are identified in the hearts and spleens of infected animals with an antibody raised against iNOS. Infected mice have increased titers of virus and a higher mortality when fed NOS inhibitors. Thus, viral infection induces iNOS in vivo, and NO inhibits viral replication, NO is a novel, nonspecific immune defense against viruses in vivo.
- inducible nitric oxide synthase
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