A number of neurotransmitters, including biologically active gases namely, nitric oxide (NO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon monoxide (CO) have been postulated to play an important role in the control of the cardiovascular system by the brain. The attention of researchers has been focused on NO in particular. It has been shown that pharmacological manipulation of NO concentration in the brain produces significant changes in circulatory parameters. Furthermore, significant alterations in the brain NO system have been found in animal models of human cardiovascular diseases. These findings imply that NO in the brain may become a promising target for new treatment strategies. Although H2S and CO have also been proved to serve as transmitters in the central nervous system, their role in the neurogenic regulation of the cardiovascular system remains more obscure. Interestingly, increased synthesis of NO, H2S and CO is found in inflammation and it appears that the gases mediate some of the circulatory responses to inflammatory stimuli. In this review we discuss the role of brain gaseous transmitters in the control of the circulatory system in health and disease.
Keywords: Brain, carbon monoxide, cardiovascular system, cytokine, hydrogen sulphide, nervous system, nitric oxide, circulatory parameters, neurogenic regulation, dysfunctional neurotransmission, physiological functions, electrolytic lesions, Rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), unconventional transmitters, magnocellular neurons