Louis J. Ignarro

University of California, Los Angeles


Election Year: 1999
Primary Section: 23, Physiology and Pharmacology
Secondary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

As a pharmacologist, I have studied the mechanism of action of nitroglycerin and other nitrovasodilators as well as the mechanism by which nitric oxide activates cytosolic guanylate cyclase. My laboratory has shown that nitroglycerin generates nitric oxide through chemical reactions involving thiols and forming intermediate S-nitrosothiols, which serve as carriers and donors of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide activates guanylate cyclase by heme-dependent mechanisms, resulting in cyclic GMP formation in tissues. Cyclic GMP triggers numerous tissue functions including smooth muscle relaxation and inhibition of platelet aggregation. By analyzing mechanisms involved in endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation, my laboratory found that endothelium-derived relaxing factor is nitric oxide, thereby explaining why guanylate cyclase is so sensitive to activation by nitroglycerin. More recently, I have been trying to understand how nitric oxide production is regulated by endogenous molecules like arginase and cytokines and how the nitric oxide pathway regulates cell proliferation.

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