Role of nitric oxide in gastrointestinal inflammatory and ulcerative diseases: perspective for drugs development

Curr Pharm Des. 2001 Jan;7(1):31-48. doi: 10.2174/1381612013398491.


Nitric oxide is a ubiquitous molecule involved in a variety of biological processes. The specific action of NO depends on its enzymatic sources namely neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), endothelial NOS (eNOS) and inducible NOS (iNOS) and all three isoforms have been localized in the gastrointestinal tract. Constitutive synthesis of NO by nNOS or eNOS isoforms is involved in the maintaining of the gastrointestinal mucosal integrity through modulation of gastric mucosal blood flow, epithelial secretion and barrier function. However, large amounts of NO synthesized from the inducible isoform have been implicated in tissue injury in the gut during inflammatory reactions. In this review we provide an overview of the dual role of nitric oxide in modulating gastrointestinal mucosal defense and injury. In addition, we highlight the therapeutic potential of NO modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Gastroenteritis / drug therapy*
  • Gastroenteritis / metabolism*
  • Gastroenteritis / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Donors / therapeutic use
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Peptic Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Peptic Ulcer / metabolism*
  • Peptic Ulcer / pathology


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Nitric Oxide Donors
  • Nitric Oxide
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II