Reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are a family of antimicrobial molecules derived from nitric oxide (·NO) and superoxide (O2·−) produced via the enzymatic activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) and NADPH oxidase respectively. NOS2 is expressed primarily in macrophages after induction by cytokines and microbial products, notably interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
Reactive nitrogen species act together with reactive oxygen species (ROS) to damage cells, causing nitrosative stress. Therefore, these two species are often collectively referred to as ROS/RNS.
Reactive nitrogen species are also continuously produced in plants as by-products of aerobic metabolism or in response to stress.
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