Nitric oxide-based possibilities for pharmacotherapy

I Pörsti, I Paakkari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review


The goal of nitric oxide (NO) based pharmacotherapy is to reach proper homeostasis of NO metabolism in the target tissue where endogenous production of NO is either too weak or excessively increased. In addition to the classic NO-based therapy of cardiovascular conditions with nitrates, a variety of new therapeutic possibilities have emerged including sexual disorders, gastrointestinal system, immunology, tumour growth regulation and respiratory disorders. NO levels of target tissues can be affected directly by NO donors, or indirectly by increasing the level of L-arginine, a substrate of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). While increased production of NO by induceable NO (iNOS) by, for example, cytokines does not at present seem therapeutically meaningful, increased NO production by constitutive NOS (cNOS) may be involved in the beneficial effects of ACE inhibitors or oestrogens. NO production may be pharmacologically decreased by inhibition of expression of iNOS by glucocorticoids while both cNOS and iNOS derived NO production is inhibited by administration of false substrates, for example L-NAME. Additionally, the respiratory system and related vessels can be reached directly and more selectively by inhalation of pure NO gas. Possible problems in administering NO and perhaps some NO-donors include the toxic nature of the compound itself whereby vital enzyme systems may be inhibited and tissue damaging radicals formed. Future prospects of NO-based pharmacotherapy may feature selective ligands to different NOS isoforms and tissue selective donors that release NO in a controlled fashion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-20
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arginine/therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nitric Oxide/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vasodilator Agents/pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Nitric oxide-based possibilities for pharmacotherapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this