Organic nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, have been used in clinical practice for more than one century for the treatment of angina, even before the identification of Nitric Oxide (NO) as the so-called Endothelium Derived Relaxing Factor (EDRF). Recently, multiple functions of this molecule in biology and pathophysiology have been discovered and alterations in the NO signalling pathway have often been associated with disease progression in mammals, providing a strong rationale for the use of NO as a potential drug. To have a therapeutic benefit from NO properties, an elegant approach has been designed coupling well-known existing drugs with moieties able to slowly release NO following enzymatic metabolism. "Hybrid nitrates", in which activities of both the native drug and NO are present, have been obtained with the aim of originating safer and more active drugs. The technology consists in the choice of the appropriate chemical spacer arm carrying the nitric ester in order to obtain the best pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic profile. The connecting linkers already explored are of different chemical structure, ranging from aliphatic chains to heteroaromatic rings. The molecules so far obtained have already demonstrated their potential therapeutic interest in both pharmacological tests and clinical trials. In this review, we describe the approach and the possibility of generating new chemical entities, combining well-known drugs with an NO-donating moiety in order to increase activity and safety, along with examples of their activity and potential therapeutic application in different pathologies. A few significant examples of molecules in the early preclinical stage, as well as in advanced clinical development will be described.
Keywords: nitric oxide, no-donors, hybrid nitrates, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids), cox-inhibiting nitric oxide donators (cinods), steroids, antihypertensive drugs, naproxen, aspirin, gabapentin
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