Nitric oxide donors and cardiovascular agents modulating the bioactivity of nitric oxide: an overview

Circ Res. 2002 Jan 11;90(1):21-8. doi: 10.1161/hh0102.102330.


Nitric oxide (NO) mediates multiple physiological and pathophysiological processes in the cardiovascular system. Pharmacological compounds that release NO have been useful tools for evaluating the pivotal role of NO in cardiovascular physiology and therapeutics. These agents constitute two broad classes of compounds, those that release NO or one of its redox congeners spontaneously and those that require enzymatic metabolism to generate NO. In addition, several commonly used cardiovascular drugs exert their beneficial action, in part, by modulating the NO pathway. Here, we review these classes of agents, summarizing their fundamental chemistry and pharmacology, and provide an overview of their cardiovascular mechanisms of action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Donors / pharmacology*


  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Nitric Oxide Donors
  • Nitric Oxide