, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 88-95

Nitric oxide, nitric oxide synthase, and hypertensive vascular disease

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In normotension the endothelium produces mainly nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin, and the vasodilator and growth inhibitory influence predominates. Hypertension, however, is associated with a shift towards enhanced constriction and vascular hypertrophy. These effects are associated with an apparent decrease in the production of bioactive NO and concomitant increase in the generation of oxygen-derived free radicals, such as superoxide anions (O2-). While the enzymatic source of endothelial O2-has been debated intensely over the past few years, it may well turn out that the endothelial NO synthase is itself an important producer of O2-. Because the redox state of endothelial cells and, for example, the activation of redoxsensitive transcription factors is regulated by the balance between NO and O2-production, endothelial NO synthase may well be the most crucial enzyme determining the anti- or prohypertensive and eventually proatherogenic state of the vascular wall.