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

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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

Citation and License

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

Published: 17 October 2008


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.