Nitric oxide (NO) is known to have a very short half‐life, and it is oxidized to nitrate (NO3−) and nitrite (NO2−). The activity and/or expression of nitric oxide synthases (NOSs) can change in response to toxins or therapeutic medications. For example, in recent studies in our laboratory and others, it has been reported that the amount of NO was increased in the serum of N‐nitroso compounds‐treated animals. N‐nitroso compounds, which are found in different types of foodstuffs, including meat, salted fish, alcoholic beverages, agricultural drugs, insecticides, cigarettes, and several vegetables, are known to have carcinogenic effects. In addition, it is experimentally used to induce liver carcinoma to study the mechanisms of liver cytotoxic injury. Uncontrolled, prolonged, and/or massive production of NO by inducible NOS may cause liver damage, inflammation, and even tumor development during N‐nitroso compound toxicity. In this chapter, we explain the roles of NOS and NO in various toxicity conditions, such as toxicity in environment pollutant or food additive, and present the evaluation of the toxicity and the importance of NOSs in human health.
Part of the book: Nitric Oxide Synthase