|13 September 2001|
Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Hypoxia: Breathe easy
Hypoxia, the lack of oxygen at the tissue level of the body despite adequate blood flow, is commonly associated with high altitudes but also occurs in patients with breathing disorders. The physiological response to hypoxia is an increase in respiration, and Lipton et al. now describe a biochemical mechanism that can explain this response. Haemoglobin deoxygenation causes an increase in ventilation via S-nitrosothiols. In particular, S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) stereoselectively stimulates the brainstem ventilatory response to hypoxia. This finding has immediate therapeutic implications for disorders such as sleep-associated breathing irregularities.
Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2001 Registered No. 785998 England.