Nitric oxide in the central nervous system: Neuroprotection versus neurotoxicity

Vittorio Calabrese, Cesare Mancuso, Menotti Calvani, Enrico Rizzarelli, D. Allan Butterfield, Anna Maria Giuffrida Stella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1220 Scopus citations


At the end of the 1980s, it was clearly demonstrated that cells produce nitric oxide and that this gaseous molecule is involved in the regulation of the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, rather than simply being a toxic pollutant. In the CNS, nitric oxide has an array of functions, such as the regulation of synaptic plasticity, the sleep-wake cycle and hormone secretion. Particularly interesting is the role of nitric oxide as a Janus molecule in the cell death or survival mechanisms in brain cells. In fact, physiological amounts of this gas are neuroprotective, whereas higher concentrations are clearly neurotoxic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-775
Number of pages10
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca Cofin 2000, Progetti di Ricerca di Interesse Nazionale 2005, Fondo per gli Investimenti della Ricerca di Base RBNE01ZK8F and by National Institutes of Health grant AG-10836; AG-05119.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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