the miracle of the hormones

A Wonderful Messenger: Nitric oxide

What do air pollution, a Nobel Prize and a hormone have in common? The answer is "nitric oxide." In chemistry textbooks, nitric oxide is defined as a colorless, poisonous gas that comes into being by the oxygenation of nitrogen. It is a "simple" molecule shown by the chemical formula, "NO" (it is a molecule made up of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom). Both nitrogen and oxygen are familiar elements. One of the first things we learn in high school is that the air we breathe is composed of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen.

Nitric oxide is a gas that causes air pollution and acid rain; it also destroys the ozone layer and the ecological balance.

When we say nitric oxide is "simple," we only refer to the simplicity of its chemical composition. With regard to its importance to human life, intense research over the past twenty years has shown that this molecule performs a basic function in communication among cells. The result of scientific work in this field has revealed that nitric oxide is a hormone produced naturally in the human body. It is a chemical messenger that plays a strategic role in the regulation of the vital functioning of the nervous system, circulatory system, immune system, respiratory system and reproductive system.

Poisonous nitric oxide is a gas that causes air pollution and acid rain, destroys the ozone layer and the ecological environment. This gas is produced by the burning of nitrogen and is found in great quantities in car exhaust. Until recently, only this aspect of NO was known. It was believed that, apart from its threat to human health, it had no function. Even the discovery by research that the NO was a hormone was disregarded in scientific circles. Generally, the first reaction to this discovery was disbelief.

But, within a short time, the results of research have awakened great interest in the scientific community; as evidence of this, the December 1992 issue of the well known scientific periodical Science called nitric oxide the "molecule of the year."74 With increased work in this field of scientific research, nitric oxide has gained great recognition; it has become known as the "magic gas," the "wonderful molecule" and the "secret messenger."

Ferid Murad, Louis J. Ignarro and Robert Furchgott (above left to right) were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine 1998 for their discovery related to the role of nitric oxide in cellular communication.

Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro and Ferid Murad, who demonstrated the role of nitric oxide in the process of cellular communication, received the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine. In the Nobel Foundation press release, it was noted that the prize was awarded to these professors for discoveries made relative to the NO messenger molecule, and it was pointed out that this discovery had elicited an avalanche of research activities in many different laboratories around the world.75 Special research in the field of cellular communication has brought several other awards to the same researchers from the Nobel foundation.

In fact, in the last ten years, there has been an explosion in the amount of research done on NO; foundations have been established in the name of Nitric Oxide; periodicals have been published; according to the Nitric Oxide Society records, there are more than 32,000 scientific papers dealing with this remarkable molecule.76

Dr. Salvador Monsada, known for his work on nitric oxide, said that NO has changed the generally accepted thinking about cell-to-cell interaction, and that it has turned upside down some ideas about this matter.77 Dr. John Cooke, of Stanford University, has characterized this research as "a great discovery" that is going to have "tremendous ramifications in American medicine-in medicine throughout the world."78

Of course, the basic point is how these developments have squeezed evolutionists into a corner. As in every scientific advance, new discoveries concerning nitric oxide have created a nightmare for evolutionists because there is no way that the wonderful operations in the human body caused by this molecule, 0.0000000001 meter (one billionth of a meter) in size could be explained in terms of chance. Nitric oxide is one of the numberless signs of God's perfect creation.

Evolutionist circles are relentlessly determined to deny God and blind to every marvelous proof of creation from atoms to galaxies. The attitude of their print media towards NO is that these articles, written with a claim to being scientific, praise nitric oxide immensely and present it like a hero or a superman. Because evolutionists deny the Creator of nitric oxide, they almost divinize this molecule and speak as if it performed all its marvelous operations by its own will and intelligence.

Evolutionists fall into their own trap because, this distorted point of view is no different from divinizing a bee because it gives honey, a tree because it gives fruit, or the sun because it gives light to the world. The same way of thinking would lead one to praise a beautiful painting without mentioning the painter or giving him praise. Every person must choose one of the two roads: either he will believe in God as it says in the Qur'an "That is God, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything…" (Qur'an, 6: 102) or he will divinize atoms, molecules, cells and a countless number of animate and inanimate things.

The nitric oxide messenger molecule is only one of the countless blessings that the Almighty God of eternal mercy has created and given to our service. In this century in which we live, it is one of the many wonders of creation that has come to light in the micro-universe. Throughout the section, you will read about the expert design of this molecule that performs its operations on our behalf in a significant number of the 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) cells in our bodies.

Design in Our Blood Vessels

The system of blood vessels in our bodies is more complex than the highway network in a developed country like Japan.

Let us begin our investigation of nitric oxide where it was first discovered-the blood vessels. The blood vessels, together with the heart and the blood, form the circulatory system. Our blood vessels are like an immense highway system that goes to every part of our bodies. Its total length is more than 100,000 kilometers. A simple calculation helps us to better understand the importance of this number: if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries in the human body were placed end to end, they could stretch around the earth nearly two and a half times.79

And the blood vessel system in our bodies is incomparably more complex than the highway system in a developed country such as America. Highways are built with a particular width and, according to the density of traffic at different times of day, the number of lanes does not increase or decrease. However, the inner diameter of our blood vessels is not fixed; they narrow and dilate according to our activities and thus play an important role in the adjustment of blood pressure. So, thanks to this wonderful system, the changing needs in different areas of our bodies are met automatically. It is because of this flawless system that the blood vessels dilate to respond to an increased need for blood, and constrict after we receive a wound to reduce bleeding.

The fact that blood vessels determine that they will need an increasing supply of blood during exercise is the result of the flawless design of the body.

How do the blood vessels know when to dilate and when to constrict? The answer to this question is very important for human life. It is clear that a slight error that may happen at any point in the 100,000-kilometer long network of blood vessels will ineluctably have negative consequences.

Until ten years ago, scientists suspected that some very complex operations occurred in the blood vessels, but they were unable to answer the questions posed above. Research has revealed the existence of a chemical messenger-the nitric oxide molecule. It is this molecule that gives instructions for the blood vessels to dilate.

Now, let us examine more closely the wonderful installations deep in our blood vessels that produce nitric oxide.

With an electron microscope, the blood vessels appear to be huge in reverse proportion to their smallness. For example, ten capillary vessels arranged side by side are only the size of a human hair. The inner walls of these tiny blood vessels are covered with a tissue that is made up of the smooth muscle cells; the dilation and contraction of the blood vessels happens as a result of the movement of this tissue. The muscle cells do not make direct contact with the blood because a membranous layer exists between the blood and the muscle cells-the endothelium.

By aligning themselves side by side like the links of a chain, endothelium cells form the endothelial layer. Until the 1980's, it was believed that these cells had no function worthy of attention other than facilitating blood flow in the vessels. We now understand that one of the many responsibilities of the endothelium cells is the production of the nitric oxide messenger.

The endothelium cells are factories that produce nitric oxide molecules. These factories in the blood vessels are just one millionth of a meter in size. The chemical products of this microscopic factory, nitric oxide messenger molecules, are also just one millionth of a meter in size. To help us imagine this measurement, the magnification required to see a NO molecule as grape-sized with the naked eye would magnify a tennis ball to the same size as the world.80

As you can see in this picture, blood vessels can be stimulated to dilate and constrict.

74 D.E. Koshland, "The Molecule of the Year," Science, no. 258, 18 December 1992, pp. 1861-1865
75 The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute, "Press Release: The 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine," 12 October 1998,
76 The Nitric Oxide Society, "The Nitric Oxide Home Page," 2000,
77 R.H. Epstein, "Puff the Magic Gas," Physician's Weekly, vol. XIII, no. 31, 19 August 1996
78 J. Cooke, "Magic Molecule," 12 October 1998, http://
79 M. Encarta Encyclopedia 2000, "Circulatory System"
80 "What is Nanotechnology?," Nano Technology Magazine, November 2001, FSCNanotechnologyReport.pdf