Modulation of neuroendocrine systems by nitric oxide: Focus on the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis

A. Costa, R. E. Nappi, L. Bernasconi, C. Tassorelli, G. Nappi, A. Grossman

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It is well established that nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous molecule acting as atypical messenger, is involved in numerous functions, at the level of either the CNS or other biological systems. It has been recently shown that NO also plays an important role in the central mechanisms of neuroendocrine regulation, as it is able to modulate the release of hypophysiotrophic neuropeptides within the hypothalamus. The presence of the relevant enzyme NOS in this brain area supports this view. Due to its characteristics, such as extreme diffusibility, rapid action and cGMP-stimulating effect, NO appears to be an ideal candidate as a regulator of neuroendocrine activities. Experimental evidence suggests that this gaseous mediator is involved in the control of the principal stress system, the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, via the modulation of CRH and AVP release. Under conditions of increased CRH and/or AVP release (such as stimulation by endotoxin or immune reponses with interleukins production), NO formation may represent a protective mechanism, counteracting the potentially detrimental consequences of excess HPA activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-95
Number of pages4
JournalEOS Rivista di Immunologia ed Immunofarmacologia
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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