Recent advances in the understanding of the role of nitric oxide in cardiovascular homeostasis

Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Dec;108(3):225-56. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2005.04.005. Epub 2005 Jun 8.


Nitric oxide synthases (NOS) are the enzymes responsible for nitric oxide (NO) generation. To date, 3 distinct NOS isoforms have been identified: neuronal NOS (NOS1), inducible NOS (NOS2), and endothelial NOS (NOS3). Biochemically, NOS consists of a flavin-containing reductase domain, a heme-containing oxygenase domain, and regulatory sites. NOS catalyse an overall 5-electron oxidation of one Nomega-atom of the guanidino group of L-arginine to form NO and L-citrulline. NO exerts a plethora of biological effects in the cardiovascular system. The basal formation of NO in mitochondria by a mitochondrial NOS seems to be one of the main regulators of cellular respiration, mitochondrial transmembrane potential, and transmembrane proton gradient. This review focuses on recent advances in the understanding of the role of enzyme and enzyme-independent NO formation, regulation of NO bioactivity, new aspects of NO on cardiac function and morphology, and the clinical impact and perspectives of these recent advances in our knowledge on NO-related pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase