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August 1996

From Bedside to the Bench and BackNitric Oxide and the Cutis

Author Affiliations

Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Mass

Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(8):889-893. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890320037005

When the discoverer of dynamite (trinitrotoluene [TNT]), Alfred Nobel, was prescribed nitroglycerin for angina in 1895, he was certainly taken aback. Almost a century later, organic nitrates and their gaseous metabolic end product, nitric oxide (NO), were implicated in a vast array of biologically diverse activities.1 About 10 years ago, a series of discoveries from different avenues of research converged on NO, thrusting it into the limelight as a neurotransmitter, vasodilator, toxin, and modulator of immune function and inflammation.2 Nitric oxide has thus managed to capture the interest of scientists from a number of fields and holds center stage attention. Interest in NO among dermatologists has been slow to appear, however, and the literature on NO with respect to the skin is sparse when compared with the steep escalation in the number of articles published generally on NO since 1987 (Figure 1).