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Hypertension. 1988 Oct;12(4):365-72.

The discovery of nitric oxide as the endogenous nitrovasodilator.

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Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent, United Kingdom.


Endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) is a labile humoral agent released by vascular endothelium that mediates the relaxation induced by some vasodilators, including acetylcholine and bradykinin. EDRF also inhibits platelet aggregation, induces disaggregation of aggregated platelets, and inhibits platelet adhesion to vascular endothelium. These actions of EDRF are mediated through stimulation of the soluble guanylate cyclase and the consequent elevation of cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate. EDRF has been identified as nitric oxide (NO). The pharmacology of NO and EDRF is indistinguishable; furthermore, sufficient NO is released from endothelial cells to account for the biological activities of EDRF. Organic nitrates exert their vasodilator activity following conversion to NO in vascular smooth muscle cells. Thus, NO may be considered the endogenous nitrovasodilator. NO is synthesized by vascular endothelium from the terminal guanido nitrogen atom(s) of the amino acid L-arginine. This indicates the existence of an enzymic pathway in which L-arginine is the endogenous precursor for the synthesis of NO. The discovery of the release of NO by vascular endothelial cells, the biosynthetic pathway leading to its generation, and its interaction with other vasoactive substances opens up new avenues for research into the physiology and pathophysiology of the vessel wall.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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