Biologically active gases that occur naturally in the body include nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Each of these molecules is synthesized by enzymes which have been characterized biochemically and pharmacologically, and each acts, via well-established molecular targets, to effect physiological and/or pathophysiological functions within the body. Major biological roles that appear to be common to all three gases include the regulation of vascular homoeostasis and central nervous system function. It is becoming increasingly clear that both the synthesis and the biological activity of each gas are, to some extent, regulated by the presence of the others, and as such it is necessary to consider these molecules not in isolation but acting together to control cell function. Additional, more speculative candidates for gaseous cell signalling molecules include ammonia, acetaldehyde, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. Whether such molecules also play a role in regulating body function remains to be determined.

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