The science behind it
Every cardiovascular disease starts with an endothelial dysfunction.
Blood vessels are composed of endothelial cells. These endothelial cells produce Nitric Oxide (NO).
There is a wide consensus on the importance of the NO as it provides an elasticity to the blood vessels (vasodilatation) preventing so from artherosclerosis and also preventing the clotting of the blood vessels through an anti-aggregating effect on the platelets.
In our lab, we discovered that NO is also produced inside the blood vessels and is captured by the red blood cells where it complexes with the hemoglobin to create a new molecule: the nitrosylated hemoglobin (HbNO).
This HbNO has paramagnetic properties allowing a detection and measurement in a magnetic field. Therefore, in Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectroscopy (EPR), a spectrum is generated allowing the quantification of HbNO revealing so the function of the endothelium.
Blood HbNO concentration reveals the status of your blood vessels
For Healthcare Professionals
A key mediator of endothelial protective effects is nitric oxide, produced by the endothelial nitric oxide synthase. In a previous Wallonia-funded research programme, we have quantified by EPR a paramagnetic species of nitrosyl-hemoglobin (HbNO) in red blood cells from venous (de-oxygenated) blood that reflected circulating NO bioavailability and was strongly correlated with independent parameters of endothelial function (Lobysheva et al PLoS One. 2013 Oct 10;8(10):e76457). Accordingly, HbNO was reduced in states of endothelial dysfunction. We identified the key biochemical determinants of NO bioavailability and HbNO content in red blood cells. Exposure of red blood cells to oxidative stress in vivo was a key factor for HbNO degradation, consistent with prevailing theories on the role of oxidant stress in atherogenesis. Therefore, red blood cells could be considered as ‘sensors’ of reactive oxidant species (ROS) in vivo, reflective of similar adverse effects of ROS on NO bioavailability in the endothelium. Obviously, venous red blood cells are easily accessible, much more so than endothelial cells.
If we want to tackle cardiovascular diseases before they become irreversible, we must detect their development at an early stage. As cardiovascular diseases starts by a disease of the blood vessels, it is crucial to investigate the endothelial function and monitor its evolution.
Find more about our technology in the following scientific papers: