Multifaceted roles of nitric oxide in the lateral geniculate nucleus: From visual signal transduction to neuronal apoptosis

C. Nucci, L. Morrone, L. Rombolà, R. Nisticò, S. Piccirilli, L. Cerulli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is the thalamic relay of retinal inputs to the visual cortex. It contains a rich array of brain terminals, which modulate the visual signals to the cortex. Several data have documented that beside cholinergic, GABA-nergic, istaminergic, serotoninergic, and glutamatergic signals, the LGN contains also fibers and interneurons expressing the enzyme that produces nitric oxide (NO). Here, we review the documented physiological roles of NO in the transmission of visual inputs to the cortex and in the processes of activity-dependent refinement of LGN connections. Moreover we focus on the recently suggested role of NO in processes of neurotoxicity in the LGN. Particular relevance is given to studies documenting that, through an excitotoxic cascade, NO triggers apoptosis in the LGN of new-born rats deprived of vision in one eye. Data are also discussed on a possible role of NO in the mechanisms of LGN neuronal loss induced by glaucoma. We believe that a better understanding of the role of NO in the LGN may contribute to discover new experimental strategies for the treatment of degenerative ophthalmic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 4 2003



  • Apoptosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Lateral geniculate nucleus
  • Monocular deprivation
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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