1. Home
  2. About NIDDK
  3. Staff Directory
  4. Barbora Piknova, Ph.D.

Barbora Piknova, Ph.D.

Scientific Focus Areas: Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics, Cell Biology, Molecular Pharmacology, Chemical Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Professional Experience

  • NIH Staff Scientist, Present Molecular Medicine Branch, NIDDK, 2010
  • NIH Contractor Staff Scientist, Molecular Medicine Branch, NIDDK, 2005-2010
  • Senior Research Fellow, National Biomedical Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2003-2005
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Medicine Department, Oregon Health & Science University, 1998-2003
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Biochemistry Department, University of Illinois, 1996-1998
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Biochemistry Department, University of Virginia, 1993-1996
  • Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellow, National Centre for Scientific Research, Toulouse France, 1991-1993
  • Ph.D., Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia, 1992

Research Goal

Understanding of the reductive nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway and the importance of mammalian nitrate reservoirs in large organs—skeletal/smooth muscle, skin and bone—for nitric oxide homeostasis.

Current Research

We focus on nitrite and nitrate as alternative sources of nitric oxide in tissues. We identified the role of the skeletal muscle as important nitrate reservoir in mammalian body. We confirmed that during low oxygen situation, such as high-altitude exposure, exercise or various ischemia-related states, nitric oxide supplied by nitrate-nitrite-NO reduction cycle, nitrate being supplied from this reservoir. We also confirmed that enzymes responsible for nitrate and nitrite reduction are molybdenum-containing proteins (mainly xanthine oxidoreductase) and heme-containing proteins (mainly myoglobin), respectively. Both classes of proteins are present in skeletal muscle and other tissues, and we showed that both, nitrate-to-nitrite and nitrite-to-nitric oxide reduction happens in muscle (as well as other tissues). Currently we are examining the transport of dietary nitrate into these tissues and its turnover along the metabolic pathways, using 15N-labeled nitrate.

Recently we identified additional nitrate reservoirs – skin and bone and are in process of their further characterization.

Applying our Research

Nitric oxide metabolism is dysfunctional in some metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Since nitric oxide precursor, nitrate, is a part of normal healthy diet, simple dietary interventions could be designed to partially correct this dysfunction.

Need for Further Study

More clinical research is needed to understand the basic normal physiology of nitric oxide and its cycle in healthy humans, as well as the site of its dysfunction in cardiovascular/metabolic diseases.

Select Publications

Skeletal Muscle Nitrate as a Regulator of Systemic Nitric Oxide Homeostasis.
Piknova B, Schechter AN, Park JW, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM.
Exerc Sport Sci Rev (2022 Jan 1) 50:2-13. Abstract/Full Text
Human skeletal muscle nitrate store: influence of dietary nitrate supplementation and exercise.
Wylie LJ, Park JW, Vanhatalo A, Kadach S, Black MI, Stoyanov Z, Schechter AN, Jones AM, Piknova B.
J Physiol (2019 Dec) 597:5565-5576. Abstract/Full Text
View More Publications

Research in Plain Language

Tissues regulate blood flow and pressure in their blood vessels to match oxygen and nutrition demands with supply. Nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator, plays a critical role in this process. We study the formation of nitric oxide from different compounds, especially those contained in diet, in different tissues. The goal of our research is to determine whether dietary nitrate can enhance these reactions. This knowledge might lead to development of new treatments or prevention guidelines for diseases that affect blood vessels and the recommendations how simple dietary changes can improve cardiovascular and general health of healthy and especially ageing population.

Last Reviewed November 2023