Reactive nitrogen and oxygen species in airway inflammation

Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Oct 19;429(1-3):251-62. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(01)01324-3.


The free radical nitric oxide (NO) is an important mediator of many biological processes. Interestingly, the molecule appears to be a two-edged sword. Apart from NO having a function as a paracrine messenger, NO-derived oxidants are important weapons against invading pathogens. The role of NO in the airways is similarly ambiguous. Besides the task as a bronchodilator, NO and its derivatives play a role in the pathophysiology of asthma via their putative damaging effects on the airways. This deleterious effect can be increased by a nitrosative response to respiratory tract infections, since both the infectious agent and the host may suffer from the consequent nitrosative stress. Interestingly, respiratory infections can also compromise the beneficial (bronchodilator) effects of NO. This paper gives an overview on NO and its derivatives in the pathophysiology of airway inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species