Nitric Oxide and Cardiovascular Regulation
Beyond the Endothelium
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See related article, pp 970–976
The importance of nitric oxide (NO) for normal cardiovascular regulation and health has been well established. However, the large majority of the focus and knowledge about NO has revolved around the endothelium and endothelial derived NO. Aside from its importance for blood flow and blood pressure via endothelium-dependent vasodilation,1,2 endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) has been shown to have numerous other vascular protective effects including, but not limited to, inhibition of platelet aggregation and adhesion, promotion of angiogenesis, anti-inflammation, and inhibition of the atherosclerotic process.3,4 In addition, eNOS has important cardiac effects. Thus, it is clear that impairments in eNOS-derived NO can have deleterious consequences and play a role in the disease process. Although the aforementioned functions of eNOS cannot be overstated, the synthesis of NO via neuronal NOS (nNOS) may also be critical for cardiovascular regulation and health. Indeed, nNOS along with eNOS is constitutively expressed in mammalian cells, and an emerging body of research, mainly performed in animals, has indicated that nNOS may also be important for the regulation of vasomotor tone and blood pressure.5 However, much less is known about nNOS in humans.
In the current issue of Hypertension, Shabeeh et al6 report results from the first human study to systemically infuse the …