Organic nitrates have been used clinically in the treatment of ischemic heart disease for more than a century. Recently, xanthine oxidase (XO) has been reported to catalyze organic nitrate reduction raider anaerobic conditions, but questions remain regarding the initial precursor of nitric oxide (NO) and the link of organic nitrate to the activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC). To characterize the mechanism of XO-mediated biotransformation of organic nitrate, studies using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, chemiluminescence NO analyzer, NO electrode, and immunoassay were performed. The XO reducing substrates xanthine, NADH, and 2,3-dihydroxybenz-aldehyde triggered the reduction of organic nitrate to nitrite anion (NO2-). Studies of the pH dependence of nitrite formation indicated that XO-mediated organic nitrate reduction occurred via an acid-catalyzed mechanism. In the absence of thiols or ascorbate, no NO generation was detected from XO-mediated organic nitrate reduction; however, addition of L-cysteine or ascorbate triggered prominent NO generation. Studies suggested that organic nitrite (R-O-NO) is produced from XO-mediated organic nitrate reduction. Further reaction of organic nitrite with thiols or ascorbate leads to the generation of NO or nitrosothiols and thus stimulates the activation of sGC. Only flaols xsite XO inhibitors such as diphenyleneiodonium inhibited XO-mediated organic nitrate reduction and sGC activation, indicating that organic nitrate reduction occurs at the flavin site. Thus, organic nitrite is the initial product in the process of XO-mediated organic nitrate biotransformation and is the precursor of NO and nitrosothiols, serving as the link between organic nitrate and sGC activation.
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