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April 1993

The Discovery of Nitric Oxide in the Vessel Wall: A Unifying Concept in the Pathogenesis of Sepsis

Author Affiliations

From the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Wellcome Foundation Ltd, Beckenham, England.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(4):396-401. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420160034004

William Altemeier spent a lifetime studying the bacteriology and treatment of sepsis. The story I am going to tell you today will illustrate one of the most important steps forward in our understanding of this condition, which still represents one of the biggest problems in surgery. I am going to tell you about nitric oxide (NO) and use the work from our group at the Wellcome Research Laboratories (Beckenham) in the United Kingdom to illustrate the essential points that relate NO to the pathogenesis of sepsis. In particular, I will focus on the role of NO in the control of blood pressure and on its role in tissue damage. In the last 4 years, the formation of NO from the amino acid L-arginine has been shown in many cells and tissues.1I will only discuss some of these, focusing on those that may contribute to our understanding of the

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