Effects of nitric oxide on neuroendocrine function and behavior

Randy J. Nelson, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, Valina L. Dawson, Ted M. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) is an unusual chemical messenger. NO mediates blood vessel relaxation when produced by endothelial cells. When produced by macrophages, NO contributes to the cytotoxic function of these immune cells. NO also functions as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The effects on blood vessel tone and neuronal function form the basis for an important role of NO on neuroendocrine function and behavior. NO mediates hypothalamic portal blood flow and, thus, affects oxytocin and vasopression secretion; furthermore, NO mediates neuroendocrine function in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes. NO influences several motivated behaviors including sexual, aggressive, and ingestive behaviors. Learning and memory are also influenced by NO. Taken together, NO is emerging as an important chemical mediator of neuroendocrine function and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-491
Number of pages29
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Aggression
  • And memory
  • Copulation
  • Endocrine secretion
  • Food intake
  • Hypothalamic releasing factors
  • Hypothalamic- hypophyseal portal system
  • Ingestive behavior
  • Learning
  • Ovulation
  • Penile erection
  • Sexual behavior
  • Vascular tone
  • Water balance
  • Water intake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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