Role of nitric oxide in the control of ocular blood flow

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2001 Nov;20(6):823-47. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(01)00014-3.


In the recent years it has been recognized that nitric oxide is an important regulator of ocular blood flow. Nitric oxide is involved in the control of basal blood flow in the choroid, optic nerve and the retina. In addition, nitric oxide mediates a number of vasodilator responses in ocular vessels to agonists such as acetylcholine, bradykinin, histamine, substance P and insulin. Nitric oxide also plays a role in hypercapnia-induced vasodilation in the choroid and is a modulator of pressure autoregulation in this vascular bed. Abnormalities of the L-arginine/nitric oxide system have been observed in a variety of ocular diseases including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. This makes the L-arginine/nitric oxide pathway an attractive target for therapeutic interventions. Additional research is required, particularly in characterizing the role of the three nitric oxide synthase isoforms in the control of ocular perfusion, to implement this concept into the clinical management of ocular diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Eye / blood supply*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology


  • Nitric Oxide