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J Blood Med. 2010 Aug 1;2010(1):147-162.

Vascular Nitric Oxide: Formation and Function.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Abstract

Nitric oxide (NO) is a structurally simple, highly versatile molecule that was originally discovered over 30 years ago as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor. In addition to its vasorelaxing effects, NO is now recognized a key determinant of vascular health, exerting antiplatelet, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory properties within the vasculature. This short-lived molecule exerts its inhibitory effect on platelets largely through cGMP-dependent mechanisms, resulting in a multitude of molecular effects by which platelet activation and aggregation are prevented. The biosynthesis of NO occurs via the catalytic activity of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), an oxido-reductase found in many cell types. Nitric oxide insufficiency can be attributed to limited substrate/cofactor availability as well as interactions with reactive oxygen species (ROS). Impaired NO bioavailability represents the central feature of endothelial dysfunction, a common abnormality found in many vascular diseases. In this review, we present an overview of NO synthesis and biochemistry, discuss the mechanisms of action of NO in regulating platelet and endothelial function, and review the effects of vascular disease states on NO bioavailability.

PMID:
21572574
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3092409
Free PMC Article

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