Therapeutic potential of carbon monoxide in multiple sclerosis


F. Nicoletti, Department of Bio-medical Sciences. Via Androne, 83, 95124 Catania, Italy. E-mail:


Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced during the catabolism of free haem, catalyzed by haem oxygenase (HO) enzymes, and its physiological roles include vasodilation, neurotransmission, inhibition of platelet aggregation and anti-proliferative effects on smooth muscle. In vivo preclinical studies have shown that exogenously administered quantities of CO may represent an effective treatment for conditions characterized by a dysregulated immune response. The carbon monoxide-releasing molecules (CORMs) represent a group of compounds capable of carrying and liberating controlled quantities of CO in the cellular systems. This review covers the physiological and anti-inflammatory properties of the HO/CO pathway in the central nervous system. It also discusses the effects of CORMs in preclinical models of inflammation. The accumulating data discussed herein support the possibility that CORMs may represent a novel class of drugs with disease-modifying properties in multiple sclerosis.