Nitrogen oxide (NOx) species represent ones of the most threatening air pollutants due to their prevalence and harmful impact on the environment and human health. The term NOx gathers mainly nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), mostly produced by anthropogenic activities such as transport and industries. Several cellular constituents were already described as NOx targets. These include membranes, proteins, respiratory chain enzymes, lipids, and DNA. Such damages lead to pathologies of lungs, cardiovascular system, and skin because these organs represent the first barrier toward the environment. On the other hand, NOx is also naturally synthetized by several organisms, playing a mediator role in essential cellular functions. However, few data are yet available on NOx activity toward microorganisms. Here, we review data concerning the double face of NOx, including their use in the medical field against pathogens’ infections that highlight the versatility of these compounds.
Part of the book: Emerging Pollutants