Endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene polymorphisms and cardiovascular disease: a HuGE review

Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 15;164(10):921-35. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj302. Epub 2006 Oct 3.


This review examines the association of a subset of endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene (NOS3) polymorphisms (Glu298Asp, intron 4, and -786T>C) with cardiovascular disease. The Glu298Asp polymorphism within exon 7 is the only common nonsynonymous variant. The variants have been associated with low plasma nitric oxide concentrations and reduced vascular reactivity; difficulties in measuring those phenotypes means that their functional role remains unclear. A large meta-analysis of NOS3 polymorphisms in coronary heart disease revealed per-allele odds ratios of 1.17 (95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.28) for Glu298Asp, 1.17 (95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.28) for -786T>C, and 1.12 (95% confidence interval: 1.01, 1.24) for intron 4. However, there was evidence that small studies with more striking results could affect the associations of the Glu298Asp and -786T>C polymorphisms with coronary heart disease. Associations of NOS3 polymorphisms with hypertension, preeclampsia, stroke, and diabetes remain uncertain. To date, no reliable gene-gene or gene-environmental interactions have been described. Use of these variants in predictive testing is unlikely to be useful, although the population attributable fraction could be substantial if the modest associations are causal. The need for large-scale genetic association studies using tagging polymorphisms is warranted to confirm or refute a role of the NOS3 gene in coronary heart disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Risk Factors


  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III