Glycerol trinitrate

Glycerol trinitrate
ATC Code A05AX08, C01DA02, C05AE01
Formula C3H4N4O14
Molar Mass (g·mol−1) 320,08
Physical State liquid
Melting Point (°C) 13,5
Boiling Point (°C) 160
PKS Value -5,6
CAS Number 55-63-0
PUB Number 129629344
Drugbank ID DB00727
Solubility low in water


Glycerol trinitrate or nitroglycerin is a vasodilating agent used to prevent and treat hypertension, angina pectoris (chest tightness), chest pain, acute heart failure in patients with myocardial infarction, and pain caused by anal fissures.

The active ingredient is available in spray form, intravenous form, (sustained-release) tablet form, ointment form, and transdermal form. The latter is applied directly to the skin to prevent acute attacks of angina. The intravenous form is used off-label in emergency situations (cocaine-induced coronary spasm, hypertension emergencies, acute exacerbations of congestive heart failure).



The mechanism of action of glycerol trinitrate is based on relaxation of vascular smooth muscle, causing dilation of arteries and veins. As a result, blood pressure is lowered.
Durch die mitochondriale Aldehyddehydrogenase wird Glyceroltrinitrat in Stickstoffmonoxid gewandelt, welches das Enzym Guanylatzyklase aktiviert. Daraufhin wird das zyklische Guanosin-3‘,5‘-monophosphat synthetisiert und eine Kaskade von Proteinkinase-abhängigen Phosphorylierungsereignissen in den glatten Muskelzellen aktiviert. Durch die anschließende Dephosphorylierung der Myosinkette der Muskulatur wird eine Entspannung verursacht und ein erhöhter Blutfluss in den Venen und Arterien des Herzgewebes ermöglicht.


Glycerol trinitrate is rapidly absorbed and reaches the highest plasma concentration after only 4.4 minutes after administration, which is why it is often used in emergency situations. After sublingual administration, bioavailability is 40% and protein binding in plasma is approximately 60%. The drug is degraded to glycerol and carbon via several metabolizations.


Glycerol trinitrate should not be used concomitantly with sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil because concomitant administration can often cause an increased drop in blood pressure and a slowed heart rate, which can be fatal.


Side effects

Common side effects on initial use or when the dose is increased are a noticeable drop in blood pressure with symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and a reflex acceleration of the heartbeat. In addition, headache, heat sensation, and flushing (facial flushing) may occur.

Toxicological data

LD50 (rat, oral): 105 mg/kg
LD50 (Ratte, intravenös): 23,2 mg/kg

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter ist Autor zu pharmazeutischen Themen in der Medizin-Redaktion von Medikamio. Er befindet sich im letzten Semester seines Pharmaziestudiums an der Universität Wien und liebt das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten im Bereich der Naturwissenschaften.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer ist seit 2020 freie Autorin bei Medikamio und studierte Pharmazie an der Universität Wien. Sie arbeitet als Apothekerin in Wien und ihre Leidenschaft sind pflanzliche Arzneimittel und deren Wirkung.

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