Nitric oxide: what's new to NO?

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2017 Mar 1;312(3):C254-C262. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00315.2016. Epub 2016 Dec 14.


Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the critical components of the vasculature, regulating key signaling pathways in health. In macrovessels, NO functions to suppress cell inflammation as well as adhesion. In this way, it inhibits thrombosis and promotes blood flow. It also functions to limit vessel constriction and vessel wall remodeling. In microvessels and particularly capillaries, NO, along with growth factors, is important in promoting new vessel formation, a process termed angiogenesis. With age and cardiovascular disease, animal and human studies confirm that NO is dysregulated at multiple levels including decreased production, decreased tissue half-life, and decreased potency. NO has also been implicated in diseases that are related to neurotransmission and cancer although it is likely that these processes involve NO at higher concentrations and from nonvascular cell sources. Conversely, NO and drugs that directly or indirectly increase NO signaling have found clinical applications in both age-related diseases and in younger individuals. This focused review considers recently reported advances being made in the field of NO signaling regulation at several levels including enzymatic production, receptor function, interacting partners, localization of signaling, matrix-cellular and cell-to-cell cross talk, as well as the possible impact these newly described mechanisms have on health and disease.

Keywords: CD47; NOS; cardiac; cardiovascular; cytochrome b5 reductase 3; matricellular; nitric oxide; signal transduction; thrombospondin-1.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*


  • Nitric Oxide