Researchers led by Drs. James F. George and Anupam Agarwal at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that carbon monoxide (CO) can protect against arterial clotting in mice.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely toxic; exposure prevents oxygen delivery to body tissues and is often fatal. However, inflamed or injured tissues upregulate heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a protein that both protects cells and produces CO, suggesting that low levels of CO may have protective effects.
To determine if HO-1 and CO can protect against arterial clotting, Chen et al examined clotting mechanisms in mice that received arterial transplants. Absence of HO-1 in these mice resulted in significant mortality due to arterial clotting; however, treatment with a CO-releasing molecule both decreased clotting and improved survival.
Drs. George, Agarwal, and colleagues conclude that HO-1/CO plays an "important role …[in] protection against vascular arterial thrombosis in murine aortic allotransplantation.
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