Nitric oxide: a neural messenger

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 1995;11:417-40. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cb.11.110195.002221.


Nitric oxide (NO) is a messenger molecule that is now a well established neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous systems. NO was initially characterized as the "endothelium-derived relaxation factor" and subsequently found to mediate the elevation in cGMP following glutamatergic stimulation in the nervous system. Pharmacological and immunohistochemical data suggest numerous roles for NO throughout the body. NO knockout mice have demonstrated that NO is essential in behavioral and autonomic function. NO also appears to have neurotoxic and neuroprotective effects and may have a role in the pathogenesis of stroke and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 12
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7
  • Cyclic GMP / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents*
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Cyclic GMP