Nitric oxide is a product of the conversion of L-arginine by the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide is involved in a variety of physiological situations and is produced by many different cell types. It is involved in neurotransmission, maintenance of vascular smooth muscle tone, and cytotoxicity. Nitric oxide has been suggested to play an anti-inflammatory role by inhibiting the expression of the genes for inflammatory cytokines. The pathophysiological role of nitric oxide is also evident in a variety of diseases, including septic shock, asthma, reperfusion injury, etc. Nitric oxide, by stimulating the production of cyclic GMP, relaxes smooth muscles of the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genito-urinary systems. Recent studies have provided important information on the use of inhaled nitric oxide for the management of several diseases characterized by the presence of abnormal pulmonary vascular tone, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. This review addresses the biology and clinical uses of inhaled nitric oxide.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drs. Prakash, Pabelick and Raffe for suggestions. Dr. Kannan's research has been supported by' the University of Minnesota Graduate School, National Institute of Health and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.