Nitric oxide as a physiopathological factor in neuropsychiatric disorders

Akyol O., Zoroglu S. S., Armutcu F., Sahin S., Gurel A.

IN VIVO, vol.18, no.3, pp.377-390, 2004 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Journal Name: IN VIVO
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.377-390
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


The dominant research subject on schizophrenia, mood disorders, autism and other central nervous system diseases has been related to neurotransmitter system abnormalities. For example, the dopamine hypothesis states that schizophrenia is the result of dopaminergic hyperactivity. The therapeutic approach has also been directed towards finding agents which will modulate or regulate these neurotransmitter systems at any step. There is substantial and mounting evidence that subtle abnormalities of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) may underlie a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders. NO has chemical properties that make it uniquely suitable as an intracellular and intercellular messenger. It is produced by the activity of nitric oxide synthases which are present in peripheral tissues and in neurons. On the other hand, NO is known to be an oxygen radical in the central and peripheral nervous systems. NO has been implicated in a number of physiological functions such as noradrenaline and dopamine releases, memory and learning and certain pathologies such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Evidence has been considered here for the proposal that an abnormality of NO metabolism may be a contributory factor in some neuropsychiatric disorders. The direct evidence for NO abnormalities in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders remains relatively limited to date, although there are some clinical and experimental studies. The suggestion that NO and other ROS may play a role in some neuropsychiatric disorders clearly has important implications for new treatment possibilities. The primary objective of the present review was to summarize and critically evaluate the current knowledge regarding a potential contribution of NO to the neuropathophysiology of schizophrenia as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders.