Exhaled nitric oxide and atherosclerosis

Eur J Clin Invest. 2012 Aug;42(8):873-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2012.02662.x. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Background: Fractional exhaled nitric oxide concentration (FENO) measurement has been proposed to be an important adjunct in the diagnosis and management of asthma, pulmonary hypertension and cystic fibrosis. But do we understand how other diseases influence the FENO values? In particular, atherosclerosis is one of the pathological conditions, in which nitric oxide (NO) production is inhibited and its degradation enhanced. Therefore, hypothesis of the current study was that FENO is inversely associated with risk markers of atherosclerosis and with diseases leading secondarily to the progression of atherosclerosis.

Materials and methods: A long-term FENO value (median of biweekly measurements over a 24-week period) of 53 patients with ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was compared with the results of clinical and biochemical analyses.

Results: Fractional exhaled NO was inversely associated with the plasma concentration of triglycerides (P = 0·01) and with the blood concentration of glycated haemoglobin A1c (P = 0·03). It also tended to be inversely associated with the plasma glucose concentration (P = 0·10). However, there were no statistically significant associations with inflammatory or other biochemical markers, health status, lifestyle or other personal determinants.

Conclusions: In accordance with the hypothesis, FENO is inversely associated with some of risk markers of atherosclerosis in patients with stable IHD (triglycerides and haemoglobin A1c, a marker of hyperglycaemic metabolism). A potential explanation is that, at hyperglycaemia and with higher triglyceride concentrations, atherosclerosis leads to endothelial dysfunction and, subsequently, to decreased production and increased degradation of NO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • Coronary Artery Disease / metabolism*
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Nitric Oxide