Hedenstierna G, Chen L, Hedenstierna M, Lieberman R, Fine DH
Nitric Oxide 103 (-) 1-3 [2020-10-01; online 2020-06-23]
It has long been suggested that NO may inhibit an early stage in viral replication. Furthermore, in vitro tests have shown that NO inhibits the replication cycle of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Despite smoking being listed as a risk factor to contract Covid-19, only a low proportion of the smokers suffered from SARS-corona infection in China 2003, and from Covid-19 in China, Europe and the US. We hypothesize, that the intermittent bursts of high NO concentration in cigarette smoke may be a mechanism in protecting against the virus. Mainstream smoke from cigarettes contains NO at peak concentrations of between about 250 ppm and 1350 ppm in each puff as compared to medicinal use of no more than 80 to a maximum of 160 ppm. The diffusion of NO through the cell wall to reach the virus should be significantly more effective at the very high NO concentration in the smoke, according to classic laws of physics. The only oxide of nitrogen in the mainstream smoke is NO, and the NO 2 concentration that is inhaled is very low or undetectable, and methemoglobin levels are lower in smokers than non-smokers, reasonably explained by the breaths of air in between the puffs that wash out the NO. Specialized iNO machines can now be developed to provide the drug intermittently in short bursts at high concentration dose, which would then provide both a preventative drug for those at high risk, as well as an effective treatment, without the health hazards associated with smoking.