Louis Joseph Ignarro

Prof. Dr. Louis Joseph Ignarro

Nationality
United States 
Institution
University of California, School of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology 
Award
1998 
Discipline
Physiology or Medicine 
Co-recipients
Profs. Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad 

CURRICULUM VITAE

Dr. Ignarro’s early research experience with cyclic GMP led him to make the original discovery that nitric oxide (NO) is a vasorelaxant and that its mechanism of action involves cyclic GMP. In concurrent studies, Dr. Ignarro was the first to elucidate the mechanism of vasodilator action of nitroglycerin and related nitrates and nitrites, namely, their metabolism to NO and consequent stimulation of cyclic GMP production in vascular smooth muscle.

This led to his discovery that NO also inhibits platelet aggregation, accounts for the antiplatelet actions of nitro compounds and elicits this action via cyclic GMP (Dr. Ignarro directed a graduate student of Dr. Kadowitz). The discovery of the mechanism of action of nitroglycerin led to Dr. Ignarro’s original observations that S-nitrosothiols were intermediates in the metabolic activation of nitroglycerin and served as potent and labile NO donors in the process. This was the first study on the biology of S-nitrosothiols, and led to their present day use as NO donor agents. Studies on the mechanism of activation of guanylyl cyclase by NO led to the original finding that NO binds to the heme prosthetic group and activates the enzyme by a protoporphyrin IX-like binding interaction.

Dr. Ignarro’s laboratory first showed that EDRF activates guanylyl cyclase and possesses the biological and chemical properties of NO. Knowledge of the biology and chemistry of NO led Dr. Ignarro to make the first observation that NO is a neurotransmitter mediating penile erection.

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Louis Joseph Ignarro

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