Endothelial nitric oxide (NO) plays important roles in the vascular system. Animal models that show vascular dysfunction demonstrate the protective role of endothelial NO dependent pathways. This review focuses on the role of endothelial NO in the regulation of cerebral blood flow and vascular tone. We will discuss the importance of NO in cerebrovascular function using animal models with altered endothelial NO production under normal, ischemic and reperfusion conditions, as well as in hyperoxia. Pharmacological and genetic manipulations of the endothelial NO system demonstrate the essential roles of endothelial NO synthase in maintenance of vascular tone and cerebral perfusion under normal and pathological conditions.
Keywords: Cerebrovascular regulation, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, mutant mice, Cerebral blood flow (CBF), neurogenic stimulation, nitrergic perivascular nerves, inflammatory conditions, vascular reactivity, tethrahydrobiopterin, soluble guanylyl cyclase, potassium channels, cerebral artery, cerebrovascular reactivity, downstream guanylate cyclase, brain vasculature