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J Neurobiol. 1996 May;30(1):49-57.

Gaseous second messengers in vertebrate olfaction.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


Gaseous monoxides such as nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) are now recognized as important messengers in the nervous system. The enzymes generating these compounds are highly expressed in the olfactory system, including the epithelium and the main and accessory bulbs. Although the physiological roles of these molecules is still not entirely clear, some important new data has recently emerged. Alternate pathways for NO action, possible interactions between NO, CO, and intermediate proteins, and evidence suggestive of important roles for these molecules in development and regeneration are reviewed here. Of particular interest is the possible modulatory role of NO or CO in the transduction process, an area in which there has been an explosive growth in new data. Although it is clear that NO and CO are integral to the functioning of the olfactory system, it is equally obvious that many of the potential roles have yet to be clearly defined.

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