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Nitric oxide and cardiovascular risk factors

Author(s): Riccardo Raddino | Giorgio Carretta | Melissa Teli | Ivano Bonadei | Debora Robba | Gregoriana Zanini | Alberto Madureri | Savina Nodari | Livio Dai Cas

Journal: Heart International
ISSN 1826-1868

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

The endothelium is a dynamic organ with many properties that takes part in the regulation of the principal mechanisms of vascular physiology. Its principal functions include the control of blood-tissue exchange and permeability, the vascular tonus, and the modulation of inflammatory or coagulatory mechanisms. Many vasoactive molecules, produced by the endothelium, are involved in the control of these functions. The most important is nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous molecule electrically neutral with an odd number of electrons that gives the molecule chemically reactive radical properties. Already known in the twentieth century, NO, sometimes considered as a dangerous molecule, recently valued as an important endogenous vasodilator factor. Recently, it was discovered that it is involved in several physiological mechanisms of endothelial protection (Tab. I). In 1992, Science elected it as “molecule of the year”; 6 yrs later three American researchers (Louis Ignarro, Robert Furchgott and Fried Murad) obtained a Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology “for their discoveries about NO as signal in the cardiovascular system”.
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