Boosting nitric oxide in stress and respiratory infection: Potential relevance for asthma and COVID-19

Thomas Ritz, Margot L. Salsman, Danielle A. Young, Alexander R. Lippert, Dave A. Khan, Annie T. Ginty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) is a ubiquitous signaling molecule that is critical for supporting a plethora of processes in biological organisms. Among these, its role in the innate immune system as a first line of defense against pathogens has received less attention. In asthma, levels of exhaled NO have been utilized as a window into airway inflammation caused by allergic processes. However, respiratory infections count among the most important triggers of disease exacerbations. Among the multitude of factors that affect NO levels are psychological processes. In particular, longer lasting states of psychological stress and depression have been shown to attenuate NO production. The novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has caused a pandemic, and with that, sustained levels of psychological stress globally, also adversely affects NO signaling. We review evidence on the role of NO in respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and stress, and argue that boosting NO bioavailability may be beneficial in protection from infections, thus benefitting individuals who suffer from stress in asthma or SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100255
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Asthma
  • Dietary nitrate
  • Nitric oxide donor
  • Psychological stress
  • Respiratory infection
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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