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Annu Rev Med. 1996;47:219-27.

Nitric oxide synthase: role as a transmitter/mediator in the brain and endocrine system.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Nitric oxide is a unique biological messenger molecule. It is produced by endothelial cells to mediate blood vessel relaxation; it mediates, in part, the immune functions of activated macrophages; and in the central and peripheral nervous system it serves as a neurotransmitter. In the nervous system, nitric oxide may regulate neurotransmitter release, it may play a key role in synaptic plasticity and morphogenesis, and it may regulate sexual and aggressive behavior. Under conditions of excessive formation, nitric oxide is emerging as an important neurotoxin.

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