A new study has shown that carbon monoxide can protect against arterial clotting despite its ill-effects on the rest of the body.
Carbon monoxide is extremely poisonous, and can inhibit the exposure of oxygen, resulting in death.
However, the researchers have shown that inflamed or injured tissues up regulate heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a protein that both protects cells and produces CO, suggesting that low levels of CO may have protective effects.
During the study, Chen et al examined clotting mechanisms in mice that received arterial transplants.
They found that absence of HO-1 in these mice resulted in significant mortality due to arterial clotting; however, treatment with a CO-releasing molecule both decreased clotting and improved survival.
The researchers concluded that HO-1/CO plays an "important role ...[in] protection against vascular arterial thrombosis in murine aortic allotransplantation."
The study appears in the American Journal of Pathology.