Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the critical components of the vasculature, regulating key signaling pathways in health. In macro-vessels NO functions to suppress cell inflammation as well as adhesion. In this way it inhibits thrombosis and promotes blood flow. It also functions to limit vessel constriction and vessel wall remodeling. In micro-vessels and particularly capillaries NO, along with certain growth factors, is important in promoting new vessels formation, a process termed angiogenesis. With age and cardiovascular disease animal and human studies confirm that NO is dysregulated at multiple levels including decreased production, decreased tissue half-life and decreased potency. NO has also been implicated in diseases that are related to neurotransmission and cancer although it is likely that these processes involve NO at higher concentrations and from non-vascular cell sources. Conversely, NO and drugs that directly or indirectly increase NO signaling have found clinical applications in both age-related diseases and in younger individuals. This focused review considers recently reported advances being made in the field of NO signaling regulation at several levels including enzymatic production, receptor function, interacting partners, localization of signaling, matrix-cellular and cell-to-cell cross-talk, as well as the possible impact these newly described mechanisms have upon health and disease.
- nitric oxide
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology