NO is a major messenger molecule which regulates immunity and vascular tone, serves as a neurotransmitter and participates in wound healing. It has also been known to be increased in vivo by thermal injury. Urinary nitrate excretion and tissue levels of NO synthase activity were measured after a non-lethal thermal injury. Urinary nitrate excretion decreased by 90% 24-48 h after injury, but dramatically increased by 10-fold thereafter for 30-40 days after injury and remained elevated until the wound healed. This response was inhibited by a competitive inhibitor of NO synthase. These rates of urinary nitrate excretion suggest that NO production is dramatically affected by injury in a pattern that is distinct from that observed after lipopolysaccharide administration. On the basis of these findings, we suggest that the hyperdynamic cardiovascular and hypermetabolic responses seen to continue weeks after thermal injury could be a result of the autocrine and paracrine effects of NO generated locally within the tissues in addition to that generated by inflammatory cells.

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