The emergence of nitroxyl (HNO) as a pharmacological agent

Christopher H. Switzer, Wilmarie Flores-Santana, Daniele Mancardi, Sonia Donzelli, Debashree Basudhar, Lisa A. Ridnour, Katrina M. Miranda, Jon M. Fukuto, Nazareno Paolocci, David A. Wink

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Once a virtually unknown nitrogen oxide, nitroxyl (HNO) has emerged as a potential pharmacological agent. Recent advances in the understanding of the chemistry of HNO has led to the an understanding of HNO biochemistry which is vastly different from the known chemistry and biochemistry of nitric oxide (NO), the one-electron oxidation product of HNO. The cardiovascular roles of NO have been extensively studied, as NO is a key modulator of vascular tone and is involved in a number of vascular related pathologies. HNO displays unique cardiovascular properties and has been shown to have positive lusitropic and ionotropic effects in failing hearts without a chronotropic effect. Additionally, HNO causes a release of CGRP and modulates calcium channels such as ryanodine receptors. HNO has shown beneficial effects in ischemia reperfusion injury, as HNO treatment before ischemia-reperfusion reduces infarct size. In addition to the cardiovascular effects observed, HNO has shown initial promise in the realm of cancer therapy. HNO has been demonstrated to inhibit GAPDH, a key glycolytic enzyme. Due to the Warburg effect, inhibiting glycolysis is an attractive target for inhibiting tumor proliferation. Indeed, HNO has recently been shown to inhibit tumor proliferation in mouse xenografts. Additionally, HNO inhibits tumor angiogenesis and induces cancer cell apoptosis. The effects seen with HNO donors are quite different from NO donors and in some cases are opposite. The chemical nature of HNO explains how HNO and NO, although closely chemically related, act so differently in biochemical systems. This also gives insight into the potential molecular motifs that may be reactive towards HNO and opens up a novel field of pharmacological development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-840
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Heart failure
  • Ischemia reperfusion injury
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitroxyl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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