Identification of the enzymatic mechanism of nitroglycerin bioactivation.


Journal Article

Nitroglycerin (glyceryl trinitrate, GTN), originally manufactured by Alfred Nobel, has been used to treat angina and heart failure for over 130 years. However, the molecular mechanism of GTN biotransformation has remained a mystery and it is not well understood why "tolerance" (i.e., loss of clinical efficacy) manifests over time. Here we purify a nitrate reductase that specifically catalyzes the formation of 1,2-glyceryl dinitrate and nitrite from GTN, leading to production of cGMP and relaxation of vascular smooth muscle both in vitro and in vivo, and we identify it as mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (mtALDH). We also show that mtALDH is inhibited in blood vessels made tolerant by GTN. These results demonstrate that the biotransformation of GTN occurs predominantly in mitochondria through a novel reductase action of mtALDH and suggest that nitrite is an obligate intermediate in generation of NO bioactivity. The data also indicate that attenuated biotransformation of GTN by mtALDH underlies the induction of nitrate tolerance. More generally, our studies provide new insights into subcellular processing of NO metabolites and suggest new approaches to generating NO bioactivity and overcoming nitrate tolerance.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chen, Z; Zhang, J; Stamler, JS

Published Date

  • June 11, 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 99 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 8306 - 8311

PubMed ID

  • 12048254

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12048254

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.122225199


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States