Nitric oxide bioavailability in the microcirculation: insights from mathematical models

Microcirculation. 2008 Nov;15(8):813-34. doi: 10.1080/10739680802010070.


Over the last 30 years nitric oxide (NO) has emerged as a key signaling molecule involved in a number of physiological functions, including in the regulation of microcirculatory tone. Despite significant scientific contributions, fundamental questions about NO's role in the microcirculation remain unanswered. Mathematical modeling can assist in investigations of microcirculatory NO physiology and address experimental limitations in quantifying vascular NO concentrations. The number of mathematical models investigating the fate of NO in the vasculature has increased over the last few years, and new models are continuously emerging, incorporating an increasing level of complexity and detail. Models investigate mechanisms that affect NO availability in health and disease. They examine the significance of NO release from nonendothelial sources, the effect of transient release, and the complex interaction of NO with other substances, such as heme-containing proteins and reactive oxygen species. Models are utilized to test and generate hypotheses for the mechanisms that regulate NO-dependent signaling in the microcirculation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic GMP / blood
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Diffusion
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Guanylate Cyclase / metabolism
  • Heme / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation*
  • Microvessels / metabolism
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Nitric Oxide / blood*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / metabolism
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Hemoglobins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Heme
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Guanylate Cyclase
  • Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Cysteine