Emerging Roles of Endothelial Nitric Oxide in Preservation of Cognitive Health

Zvonimir S. Katusic, Livius V. D'Uscio, Tongrong D He

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase) is critically important enzyme responsible for regulation of cardiovascular homeostasis. Under physiological conditions, constitutive eNOS activity and production of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) exert essential neurovascular protective functions. In this review, we first discuss the roles of endothelial NO in prevention of neuronal amyloid accumulation and formation of neurofibrillary tangles, hallmarks of Alzheimer disease pathology. Next, we review existing evidence suggesting that NO released from endothelium prevents activation of microglia, stimulates glycolysis in astrocytes, and increases biogenesis of mitochondria. We also address major risk factors for cognitive impairment including aging and ApoE4 (apolipoprotein 4) genotype with focus on their detrimental effects on eNOS/NO signaling. Relevant to this review, recent studies suggested that aged eNOS heterozygous mice are unique model of spontaneous cerebral small vessel disease. In this regard, we review contribution of dysfunctional eNOS to deposition of Aβ (amyloid-β) into blood vessel wall leading to development of cerebral amyloid angiopathy. We conclude that endothelial dysfunction manifested by the loss of neurovascular protective functions of NO may significantly contribute to development of cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-696
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • amyloid
  • astrocyte
  • microglia
  • mitochondria
  • tau protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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