Get access

Nitric oxide signaling in the brain: translation of dynamics into respiration control and neurovascular coupling


João Laranjinha, Faculty of Pharmacy and Center for Neurosciences and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Health Sciences Campus, Azinhaga de Santa Comba, 3000-548 Coimbra, Portugal.


The understanding of the unorthodox actions of neuronal-derived nitric oxide (NO) in the brain has been constrained by uncertainties regarding its quantitative profile of change in time and space. As a diffusible intercellular messenger, conveying information associated with its concentration dynamics, both the synthesis via glutamate stimulus and inactivation pathways determine the profile of NO concentration change. In vivo studies, encompassing the real-time measurement of NO concentration dynamics have allowed us to gain quantitative insights into the mechanisms inherent to NO-mediated signaling pathways. It has been of particular interest to study the diffusion properties and half-life, the interplay between NO and O2 and the ensuing functional consequences for regulation of O2 consumption, the role of vasculature in shaping NO signals in vivo, and the mechanisms that are responsible for NO to achieve the coupling between glutamatergic neuronal activation and local microcirculation.