Nitric oxide, a neuronal messenger. Its role in the hippocampus neuronal plasticity

Riv Biol. 1996;89(1):87-107.
[Article in English, Italian]


Nitric oxide (NO), a free radical gas, has recently been recognized as an important messenger molecule having a neurotransmitter-like function. Studies on the localization of the enzyme synthesizing NO (NO synthase-NOS) have indicated its presence in almost all parts of the brain with a prevalence in the cerebellum. From recent experimental investigations it is apparent that NO might meet the essential criteria to function as a retrograde messenger for Long-term potentiation in hippocampal cells, a process known to be involved in mammalian learning and memory. However, within the hippocampus NO is present in a few cell types which probably form the local neuronal circuit. Thus NO might function as a paracrine factor rather than a retrograde messenger in the hippocampal neurons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / enzymology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Macaca
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mice
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase