The Chemistry of DNA Damage From Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite

Mutat Res. 1999 Mar 8;424(1-2):37-49. doi: 10.1016/s0027-5107(99)00006-8.


Nitric oxide is a key participant in many physiological pathways; however, its reactivity gives it the potential to cause considerable damage to cells and tissues in its vicinity. Nitric oxide can react with DNA via multiple pathways. Once produced, subsequent conversion of nitric oxide to nitrous anhydride and/or peroxynitrite can lead to the nitrosative deamination of DNA bases such as guanine and cytosine. Complex oxidation chemistry can also occur causing DNA base and sugar oxidative modifications. This review describes the different mechanisms by which nitric oxide can damage DNA. First, the physiological significance of nitric oxide is discussed. Details of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite chemistry are then given. The final two sections outline the mechanisms underlying DNA damage induced by nitric oxide and peroxynitrite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Nitrates / toxicity*
  • Nitric Oxide / toxicity*
  • Oxidants / toxicity*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Nitrates
  • Oxidants
  • peroxynitric acid
  • Nitric Oxide