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Nitric oxide and platelet function: Implications for neonatology

Seminars in Perinatology
Elsevier - WB Saunders
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0146-0005(97)80006-7
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology


Nitric oxide (NO) is a mediator that modulates vessel wall tone and hemostatic-thrombotic balance. Platelet function is regulated by NO generated from platelets, endothelial cells and leukocytes. Nitric oxide has been shown to inhibit platelet adhesion, aggregation, and stimulate disaggregation of preformed platelet aggregates. Many of the effects of NO are mediated by its stimulation of guanylate cyclase and the formation of cyclic GMP and its subsequent transduction mechanism. In vivo, NO is likely to interact with prostacyclin, metabolites of ecto-nucleotidase, and lipoxygenase to modulate platelet function in a synergistic manner. An imbalance of NO production (deficiency or overproduction) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various vascular disorders including thrombosis, atherosclerosis, septicemia, and ischemia-reperfusion injury. It is likely that some of detrimental effects of NO are mediated through its reaction with superoxide anion to form the potent oxidant, peroxynitrite. Nitric oxide gas and NO donors are used for the pharmacological treatment of various vascular disorders. Because inhaled NO has been documented to improve systemic oxygenation and reduce the need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, it has been widley used in neonates with severe hypoxemia. An inhibition of platelet function, resulting in a prolonged bleeding time, has been shown in adults receiving inhaled NO. Because bleeding complications may occur in high-risk infants, it is important to evaluate the effect of inhaled NO on platelet function and its correlation with clinical consequences such as intracranial hemorrhage. For these reasons, hemostasis should be carefully monitored during the administration of inhaled NO to critically ill neonates.

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