Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) plays a critical role in regulating and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. The importance of eNOS can be emphasized from the genetic polymorphisms of the eNOS gene, uncoupling of eNOS dimerization, and its numerous signaling regulations. The activity of eNOS on the cardiac myocytes, vasculature, and the central nervous system are discussed. The effects of eNOS on the sympathetic autonomic nervous system (SANS) and the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (PANS), both of which profoundly influence the cardiovascular system, will be elaborated. The relationship between the eNOS protein with cardiovascular autonomic reflexes such as the baroreflex and the Exercise Pressor Reflex will be discussed. For example, the effects of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) are shown to be mediated by the eNOS protein and that eNOS-derived endothelial NO is most effective in regulating blood pressure oscillations via modulating the baroreflex mechanisms. The protective action of eNOS on the CVS is emphasized here because dysfunction of the eNOS enzyme is intricately correlated with the pathogenesis of several cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Overall, our current understanding of the eNOS protein with a focus on its role in the modulation, regulation, and control of the cardiovascular system in a normal physiological state and in cardiovascular diseases are discussed.
Keywords: Angiotensin; Arteriosclerosis; Baroreflex; Blood Pressure; Cardiovascular Reflex; Cyclic GMP; ENOS Dimerization; ENOS gene; ENOS polymorphism; Endothelium; Exercise Pressor Reflex; Glutamate; Hypertension; Myocardial Infarction; Nitric Oxide; Nociception; Stroke; Sympa-thetic Nervous System; Vasodilatation; Ventrolateral Medulla.