Nitric oxide neurotoxicity

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431 Scopus citations


Derangements in glutamate neurotransmission have been implicated in several neurodegenerative disorders including, stroke, epilepsy, Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subtype of glutamate receptors results in the influx of calcium which binds calmodulin and activates neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), to convent L-arginine to citrulline and nitric oxide (NO). NO has many roles in the central nervous system as a messenger molecule, however, when generated in excess NO can be neurotoxic. Excess NO is in part responsible for glutamate neurotoxicity in primary neuronal cell culture and in animal models of stroke. It is likely that most of the neurotoxic actions of NO are mediated by peroxynitrite (ONOO-), the reaction product from NO and superoxide anion. In pathologic conditions, peroxynitrite and oxygen free radicals can be generated in excess of a cell antioxidant capacity resulting in severe damage to cellular constitutents including proteins, DNA and lipids. The inherent biochemical and physiological characteristis of the brain, including high lipid concentrations and energy requirements, make it particularly susceptible to free radical and oxidant mediated insult. Increasing evidence indicates that many neurologic disorders may have components of free radical and oxidative stress induced injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-190
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamate
  • Nitric oxide
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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