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Endothelial function in health and disease: new insights into the genesis of cardiovascular disease

  • Arshed A. Quyyumi
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Arshed A. Quyyumi, MD, National Institutes of Health, Cardiology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Building 10, Room 7B15, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1650, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1650
    Affiliations
    National Institutes of Health, Cardiology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
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      Abstract

      The vascular endothelium secretes factors that not only modulate blood vessel tone, but also participate in the development and progression of atherosclerosis through their effects on platelet adhesion and aggregation, thrombogenicity, and cell proliferation. Altered activities of these substances in patients with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (e.g., hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes, aging, postmenopausal status, smoking, and infections) appear to underlie the atherosclerotic process. There is increasing evidence from both preclinical studies and clinical trials that nitric oxide (NO) plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of arteriosclerosis. This review describes the role of NO in human health and disease and summarizes strategies currently being used to measure and improve endothelial dysfunction.
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