Nitric oxide (NO) is a gasotransmitter with pleiotropic effects which has made
a great impact on biology and medicine. A multidimensional neuromodulatory role of NO
has been shown in the brain with specific reference to neurodegenerative disorders like
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and cognitive dysfunction. It has been found that NO/cGMP
signalling pathway has an important role in learning and memory. Initially, it was
considered that indirectly NO exerted neurotoxicity in AD via glutamatergic excitotoxicity.
However, considering the early development of cognitive functions involved in the
learning memory process including long term potentiation and synaptic plasticity, NO
has a crucial role. Increasing evidence uncovered the above facts that isoforms of NOS
viz endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) and inducible NO
synthase (iNOS) having a variable expression in AD are mainly responsible for learning
and memory activities. In this review, we focus on the role of NOS isoforms in AD
parallel to NO. Further, this review provides convergent evidence that NO could provide
a therapeutic avenue in AD via modulation of the relevant NOS expression.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, nitric oxide, cGMP, excitotoxicity, NOS, gasotransmitter.
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