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Am J Med. 2009 May;122(5 Suppl):S10-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.03.003.

The impact of nitric oxide in cardiovascular medicine: untapped potential utility.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610-0277, USA.


The structural integrity and functional activity of the endothelium play an important role in atherogenesis and related adverse outcomes. Cardiovascular disease risk conditions contribute to oxidative stress, which causes a disruption in the balance between nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species, with a resulting relative decrease in bioavailable NO and/or the NO-soluble guanylate cyclase cascade in blood vessels. This leads to endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cell dysfunction, resulting in increased tone and alterations in cell growth and gene expression that create a prothrombotic, proinflammatory environment. This leads to formation, progression, and destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques which may result in myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular death. NO clearly has a critical role in the maintenance and repair of the vasculature, and a decrease in bioavailable NO is linked to adverse outcomes. This background provides the rationale for exploring the potential therapeutic role for NO-donating agents in the prevention of adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

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