Carbon monoxide can be good for you

The poisonous gas CO may serve as a novel inhalation therapy able to reduce the consequences of acute lung injury.

Tudor Toma(

Carbon monoxide (CO) can arrest cellular respiration, but paradoxically is also synthesized endogenously by heme oxygenase type 1 (Ho-1) in response to conditions of low oxygen. In the May Nature Medicine Tomoyuki Fujita and colleagues at Columbia University, New York suggest a therapeutic potential for CO, reporting that mice lacking the gene for Ho-1 exposed to ischemic stress can recover by inhaling CO.

Fujita et al tested a murine model of lung ischaemia/reperfusion injury and observed a 7–8-fold increase in the expression of HO-1 mRNA in wild type mice. Only 12% of these mice died as a result of the injury. In contrast HO-1-deficient mice subjected to an identical insult all died within 24 hours. Subsequent experiments in which HO-1-deficient mice received CO by inhalation (0.1% or 500–1000 ppm) reduced the mortality by 50%.

The study suggests that CO activates soluble guanylate cyclase thereby suppressing hypoxic induction of the...

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