Nitric Oxide

Stephen J McSorley, Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Valbonne, France Foo Y Liew, Department of Immunology, Western Infirmary, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Since the initial demonstration in 1987 that nitric-oxide (NO) is produced by mammalian cells and regulates blood flow, several reports have described a number of diverse functions that can be traced to the production of this gaseous molecule. The production of NO is now known to play an integral part in the maintenance of several physiological functions, being involved in the control of cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as in the regulation of the immune system.

The induction of NO production is observed under conditions of immune activation where it can be both beneficial, in the eradication of microorganisms and tumor cells, and harmful, in the generation of a number of pathologic conditions. In both cases, upregulation of NO is implicated in the terminal stage of the inflammatory process: killing of the invading organism or sensitive host tissues. The induction of NO by the immune system during this process has been extensively studied and has allowed insight into the microbicidal mechanisms used by the host to expel invading pathogens and the factors contributing to the development of pathology.

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