Diagram showing the formation of CO during the catabolism (breakdown) of hemoglobin, mainly occurring in the liver. The asterix marks the carbon that contributes to the CO molecule. Abbreviations: Me = methyl, V = vinyl.
It is now believed that CO acts as a natural cell-signaling substance. In this regard, CO is produced in very small quantities in most cells of the body, and as such is one link in a mechanism acting to regulate blood flow. (Watch for an expansion of this area in COHQ)
Nevertheless, the amount of CO produced by various biochemical reactions in the body naturally is very small.
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