Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules

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Structure of RuCl(gly)(CO)3, known as CORM-3.

Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules (CO-RMs) are chemical compounds that release controlled amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) to cells and tissues and are being developed as potential therapeutic agents.[1][2] Although long recognized as a poison, CO also exhibits beneficial effects in small doses. These effects include anti-inflammatory activity, vasodilatation, and cardioprotection. CO is produced in mammals during the degradation of heme by heme oxygenase-1, a redox-sensitive enzyme induced by oxidative stress.[3][4] It is this enzymatic reaction that inspired the development of synthetic CO-RMs.[5]

Synthetic CO-RMs are typically metal carbonyl complexes. A representative CO-RM that has been extensively characterized both from a biochemical and pharmacological view point is the ruthenium(II) complex Ru(glycinate)Cl(CO)3, also known as CORM-3.[6]


  1. ^ Vicki L Mahan "Neuroprotective, neurotherapeutic, and neurometabolic effects of carbon monoxide" Medical Gas Research 2012, 2:32. doi:10.1186/2045-9912-2-32.
  2. ^ Motterlini R and Otterbein LE. "The therapeutic potential of carbon monoxide" Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 9:728-743, 2010.
  3. ^ Tenhunen R, Marver HS and Schmid R. "Microsomal heme oxygenase. Characterization of the enzyme" J Biol Chem. 244:6388-94, 1969.
  4. ^ Maines MD, Trakshel GM, Kutty RK. "Characterization of two constitutive forms of rat liver microsomal heme oxygenase. Only one molecular species of the enzyme is inducible" J. Biol. Chem. 261:411-9, 1986.
  5. ^ Motterlini R, Sawle P, Hammad J, Bains SK, Alberto R, Foresti R and Green CJ. "CORM-A1: a new pharmacologically active carbon monoxide-releasing molecule" FASEB J. 19:284-286, 2005.
  6. ^ Clark JE, Naughton P, Shurey S, Green CJ, Johnson TR, Mann BE, Foresti R and Motterlini R. "Cardioprotective actions by a water-soluble carbon monoxide-releasing molecule" Cir. Res. 93:e2-e8, 2003.