Endothelial nitric oxide synthase in the microcirculation

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2015 Dec;72(23):4561-75. doi: 10.1007/s00018-015-2021-0. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS, NOS3) is responsible for producing nitric oxide (NO)--a key molecule that can directly (or indirectly) act as a vasodilator and anti-inflammatory mediator. In this review, we examine the structural effects of regulation of the eNOS enzyme, including post-translational modifications and subcellular localization. After production, NO diffuses to surrounding cells with a variety of effects. We focus on the physiological role of NO and NO-derived molecules, including microvascular effects on vessel tone and immune response. Regulation of eNOS and NO action is complicated; we address endogenous and exogenous mechanisms of NO regulation with a discussion of pharmacological agents used in clinical and laboratory settings and a proposed role for eNOS in circulating red blood cells.

Keywords: Endothelial nitric oxide synthase; Endothelium; Microcirculation; Nitric oxide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Vasculitis / metabolism
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide
  • NOS3 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III