Effects of Nitric Oxide on Intestinal Epithelial Structure and Function

  • M. P. Fink
  • N. Unno
  • A. L. Salzman
Part of the Update in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine book series (UICM, volume 24)


Nitric oxide (NO) has been identified as an important regulator and/or effector of many phenomena in the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems [1]. Recently, it has become apparent that NO also plays a versatile role in the physiology and pathophysiology of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract [2]. For example, NO appears to be one of several neurotransmitters responsible for the relaxation of non-vascular smooth muscle cells in the wall of the gut under the influence of non-adrenergic non-cholinergic (NANC) inhibitory enteric neurons [3]. NO-mediated inhibition of non-vascular smooth muscle contraction has been demonstrated at a number of sites in the GI tract, including the esophagus [4], stomach [5], small intestine [3, 6], colon [7], and sphincter of Oddi [8,9]. NO is also an important chemical messenger serving to regulate the contraction of vascular smooth muscle cells, and hence vasomotor tone, in the mesenteric circulation [10-12]. While the effects of NO on non-vascular and vascular smooth muscle cells in the gut are potentially of considerable interest to clinicians interested in critical care, the focus of the present chapter will be on the actions of NO on intestinal enterocytes and closely related cells in the mucosa and submucosa of the GI tract.


Nitric Oxide Nitric Oxide Apical Chamber Ussing Chamber Epithelial Cell Monolayer 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Fink
  • N. Unno
  • A. L. Salzman

There are no affiliations available

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