Nitric oxide in gastrointestinal epithelial cell carcinogenesis: Linking inflammation to oncogenesis

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236 Scopus citations


Chronic inflammation of gastrointestinal tissues is a well-recognized risk factor for the development of epithelial cell-derived malignancies. Although the inflammatory mediators linking chronic inflammation to carcinogenesis are numerous, current information suggests that nitric oxide (NO) contributes to carcinogenesis during chronic inflammation. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), expressed by both macrophages and epithelial cells during inflammation, generates the bioreactive molecule NO. In addition to causing DNA lesions, NO can directly interact with proteins by nitrosylation and nitosation reactions. The consequences of protein damage by NO appear to be procarcinogenic. For example, NO inhibits DNA repair enzymes such as human 8-oxode-oxyguanosine DNA glycosylase 1 and blocks apoptosis via nitrosylation of caspases. These cellular events permit DNA damage to accumulate, which is required for the numerous mutations necessary for development of invasive cancer. NO also promotes cancer progression by functioning as an angiogenesis factor. Strategies to inhibit NO generation during chronic inflammation or to scavenge reactive nitrogen species may prove useful in decreasing the risk of cancer development in chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G626-G634
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3 44-3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Apoptosis
  • Cytokines
  • DNA repair
  • Oxidative DNA damage
  • P53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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