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What Are Nitric Oxide Inhibitors?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2014
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Nitric oxide inhibitors are drugs that inhibit the action of nitrogen oxide, a gas that functions as a signaling molecule in the body. In normal concentrations, it performs a number of important biological roles, but when levels start to rise, patients can experience health complications. This class of drugs controls nitric oxide levels and can help address issues like inflammation caused by too much nitric oxide in the circulation. Pharmaceutical companies are always in the process of working on nitric oxide inhibitors and other drugs to develop new medications and find new uses for existing drugs.

Most of these medications act by blocking nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme necessary for nitric oxide synthesis in the body. When the patient takes the medication, the body cannot make more nitric oxide, or can only make limited amounts, and this will bring concentrations of the gas back down to a normal levels. This signaling molecule regulates smooth muscle contractions and blood vessel dilation, and can determine the amount of oxygen supplied to mitochondria. It is also involved in the process of immune reactions.

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Patients undergoing high levels of stress, including shock as a result of injuries or disease, may experience a rise in nitric oxide levels. This can cause tissue damage and may lead to long term complications. High levels are also associated with chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma as well as acute inflammation. Vascular damage can occur, and patients may develop problems like rashes and flushing of the skin. Nitric oxide inhibitors may address these issues.

Drugs classified as nitric oxide inhibitors will lower concentrations and help stabilize the patient. They can arrest tissue damage associated with shock and inflammation, protecting internal organs from potentially serious complications. For patients with conditions like eczema and rosacea, the drugs can be useful for reducing inflammation and swelling. This will keep the skin looking clear and healthy and may prevent complications like blood vessel damage.

A doctor can prescribe nitric oxide inhibitors if they appear appropriate for a patient's case. With drugs not available on the open market, it may be possible to join a clinical trial to get access to new medications. Clinical trials are usually only open to patients who meet very precise criteria; they cannot have any comorbidities and must be able to travel to medical appointments in association with the trial. Patients can leave the trial if they experience severe adverse side effects or are unable to complete it for other reasons.

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