Biosynthesis and action of nitric oxide in mammalian cells

Trends Biochem Sci. 1997 Dec;22(12):477-81. doi: 10.1016/s0968-0004(97)01147-x.


Nitric oxide (NO) can act as a vasorelaxant, a modulator of neurotransmission and a defence against pathogens. However, under certain conditions, NO can also have damaging effects to cells. Whether NO is useful or harmful depends on its chemical fate, and on the rate and location of its production. Here, we discuss progress in NO chemistry and the enzymology of NO synthases, and we will also attempt to explain its actions in the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopterin / metabolism
  • Calmodulin / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / metabolism*
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*


  • Calmodulin
  • Nitrates
  • Biopterin
  • peroxynitric acid
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System