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This article is part of the supplement: New insights in the role of nitric oxide in the management of osteoarthritis

Review

Role of nitric oxide in the gastrointestinal tract

Angel Lanas

Author Affiliations

Servicio de Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Clinico Zaragoza, CIBERehd, IACS, Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Domingo Miral s/n, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10(Suppl 2):S4  doi:10.1186/ar2465

Published: 17 October 2008

Abstract

Worldwide osteoarthritis (OA) affects more than 9.6% of men and 18% of women older that 60 years. Treatment for OA often requires chronic use of selective or nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have been associated with gastrointestinal and cardiovascular complications. An increased risk for upper gastrointestinal bleeding with NSAIDs alone and when combined with low-dose aspirin has been described in numerous studies. Although cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors have been shown to carry a lower risk for gastrointestinal injury than nonselective NSAIDs, research continues to identify new treatments that not only are effective but also provide an improved benefit/risk profile, including better gastrointestinal tolerability. Nitric oxide (NO) is known to have a protective effect on the gastrointestinal tract. In preclinical studies NO was shown to help maintain gastric mucosal integrity, to inhibit leukocyte adherence to the endothelium, and to repair NSAID-induced damage. In addition, epidemiologic studies have shown that the use of NO-donating agents with NSAIDs or aspirin resulted in reduced risk for gastrointestinal bleeding. Recent studies have shown that cyclo-oxygenase inhibiting NO-donating drugs (CINODs), in which a NO molecule is chemically linked to an NSAID, are effective anti-inflammatory agents and may result in less gastrointestinal damage than is associated with NSAID use. Therefore, these agents provide a potential therapeutic option for patients with arthritis who require long-term NSAID therapy.