Nitric Oxide: Role in Combating Disease
Over the past 20 years several important roles for nitric oxide in health and disease have been revealed. This session will focus on the role of nitric oxide (NO) in combating cardiovascular disease. Nitric oxide is known to be important in maintenance of normal vascular tone and structure by regulating vascular cell growth. For example, flow-induced vascular remodeling is blunted by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and NO inhibits endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Also, NO production via NOS is required for remodeling signaled by VEGF and bFGF. The first three papers of the session are focused on recent advances in the understanding of the role of NO in regulation of vascular structure. NO also plays a key role in control of homeostasis, mediating immune and inflammatory responses, and regulating leukocyte and platelet function. Endothelium derived NO appears to be essential for healthy arteries. A number of vascular diseases are associated with blunted endothelial function and limited abilities for NO production/and or release. NO released by the endothelium plays a key role in the balance between normal and abnormal vascular function. Thus, NO is important in balancing forces that produce: – dilation versus constriction, – vascular growth inhibition versus growth promotion, anti-thrombosis versus pro-thrombosis,-anti-fibrinolytic versus pro-fibrinolytic,-anti-inflammatory versus pro-inflammatory, and-antioxidant versus pro-oxidant. The second group of papers in this session focus on the role of NO in combating the untoward effects of aging and coronary heart disease. Because increased physical activity can improve endothelial function and the ability of endothelium to release NO, understanding the role of NO in health and disease is an important component of understanding the impact of physical activity on health. (NIH-HL 36088 and 52490).