Vascular nitric oxide: formation and function
Richard C Jin1,2, Joseph Loscalzo1
1Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 2Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Abstract: Nitric oxide (NO) is a structurally simple, highly versatile molecule that was originally discovered over 30 years ago as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor. In addition to its vasorelaxing effects, NO is now recognized as a key determinant of vascular health, exerting antiplatelet, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory properties within the vasculature. This short-lived molecule exerts its inhibitory effect on vascular smooth muscle cells and platelets largely through cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent mechanisms, resulting in a multitude of molecular effects by which platelet activation and aggregation are prevented. The biosynthesis of NO occurs via the catalytic activity of NO synthase, an oxidoreductase found in many cell types. NO insufficiency can be attributed to limited substrate/cofactor availability as well as interactions with reactive oxygen species. Impaired NO bioavailability represents the central feature of endothelial dysfunction, a common abnormality found in many vascular diseases. In this review, we present an overview of NO synthesis and biochemistry, discuss the mechanisms of action of NO in regulating platelet and endothelial function, and review the effects of vascular disease states on NO bioavailability.
Keywords: platelets, endothelium, vasculature.
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