Nitric Oxide Donors: Biochemical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

John Anthony Bauer, Brian P. Booth, Ho Leung Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The nitric oxide (NO) donors are a diverse group of agents with unique chemical structures and biochemical requirements for generation of NO. The diverse and important physiological roles of NO suggest that exogenous donation of NO may be useful for the treatment of some disease states. Indeed, some pharmacological NO donors, such as isoamyl nitrite, nitroglycerin, and sodium nitroprusside, have been used in cardiovascular medicine long before their biochemical mechanism was recognized. In spite of their long clinical history and recent insights into their mechanisms of action, the biochemical pharmacology of these agents is still incompletely understood, and many of their therapeutic actions are not yet optimized. A thorough understanding of the biochemical pharmacology of NO donors may provide rational strategies to improve or expand their therapeutic uses. Various aspects of NO donor biochemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutics are starting to emerge; it is found that all NO donors apparently rely on the generation of NO for their pharmacological activities. The objective of this chapter is to summarize these developments. In the most general terms, there are substantial biochemical differences among the diverse chemical classes of NO donors, including their chemical structures and reactivities, relative importance of nonenzymatic versus enzymatic pathways for NO release, existence of competing metabolic events, and identity of the actual NO-generating enzyme systems. It is possible to speculate that these biochemical and metabolic differences play a role in some of the observed pharmacological differences among NO donors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Pharmacology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants HL-22273 and GM-42850.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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