Nitric oxide pathways in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative dementias

Neurol Res. 2004 Jul;26(5):563-6. doi: 10.1179/016164104225016236.


Nitric oxide (NO) is an enzymatic product of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). NO has significant physiological functions and an increasing body of evidence suggests that NO pathways are implicated in a number of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative dementias. NO is continuously released by endothelial cells in the vascular system, whereas advanced age in the presence of vascular risk factor causes a decrease in cerebral blood flow, involving microvasculopathy with impaired NO release, which in turn results in regional metabolic dysfunction. This finding suggests that vascular pathology plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of so-called neurodegenerative dementias. Inflammatory responses are commonly found in the brain under a variety of neurodegenerative dementias, including AD and dementia with Lewy bodies, in which up-regulation of NOS expression, suggesting overproduction of NO, is found in neurons and glia. NO is thought to be involved in such neuroinflammation due to its free radical properties, which compromise cellular integrity and viability via mitochondrial damage. Further studies to elucidate NO pathways in neurodegenerative dementias could lead to a better understanding of their pathogenesis and improved therapeutic strategies, and therefore are certainly warranted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Arteries / enzymology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / complications
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / enzymology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dementia / enzymology*
  • Dementia / etiology
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase