Smoking Gun

Smoking Gun for the Explosion of Disease 

While controversy remains over possible external causes of this new era of chronic disease, one internal biological trigger may already be known. A single molecule produced by the body called peroxynitrite is associated with much of this sudden explosion of disease. In January 2007 three leading scientists, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published, “Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite in Health and Disease,” 1 This paper details the massive destructive capabilities of peroxynitrite (ONOO¯).

The lead author, Dr. Pal Pacher, who has authored 260 peer-reviewed publications, is among the top 50 most-cited researchers in the pharmacology and toxicology fields worldwide. He is joined by Ph.D.’s Joseph Beckman and Lucas Liaudet. Beckman is Principal Investigator and Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Chair in Healthspan Research, Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Lucas Liaudet, who is affiliated with University Hospital at Lausanne, has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers with over 10,000 citations.

Together, this team details the cytotoxic effects, tissue damage and biochemical disruption of peroxynitrite and then systematically connects the molecule to more than 60 chronic diseases. Among them: neurodegenerative disorders, heart disease, vascular disease, accelerated aging, hypertension, inflammatory disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, IBS, kidney disease, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, MS and diabetes.

Until now many in the scientific community have been reticent to propose a unifying factor that explains the dramatic rise of so many seemingly unrelated diseases. Yet, there is growing evidence that peroxynitrite may just be that elusive factor. I recently asked Dr. Pacher, if it would be hyperbole to call peroxynitrite a “smoking gun” for chronic disease. Without hesitation he replied, “Absolutely not!”

Though peroxynitrite is not strictly a free radical, it acts as both an oxidative and nitrative agent, causing extensive cellular damage, while disrupting at least 97 critical biological processes (see appendix). This molecule is set loose by the combination of two free radicals, one of which is nitric oxide (NO). Among the most studied molecules in the body, nitric