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Mol Neurobiol. 1998 Winter;17(1-3):157-74.

Nitric oxide in invertebrates.

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Department of Biology, University of Rome III, Italy.


Nitric oxide (NO) is considered an important signaling molecule implied in different physiological processes, including nervous transmission, vascular regulation, immune defense, and in the pathogenesis of several diseases. The presence of NO is well demonstrated in all vertebrates. The recent data on the presence and roles of NO in the main invertebrate groups are reviewed here, showing the widespread diffusion of this signaling molecule throughout the animal kingdom, from higher invertebrates down to coelenterates and even to prokaryotic cells. In invertebrates, the main functional roles described for mammals have been demonstrated, whereas experimental evidence suggests the presence of new NOS isoforms different from those known for higher organisms. Noteworthy is the early appearance of NO throughout evolution and striking is the role played by the nitrergic pathway in the sensorial functions, from coelenterates up to mammals, mainly in olfactory-like systems. All literature data here reported suggest that future research on the biological roles of early signaling molecules in lower living forms could be important for the understanding of the nervous-system evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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