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Review Article

Mechanisms of Medicinal Plant Activity on Nitric Oxide (NO) Bioavailability as Prospective Treatments for Atherosclerosis

[ Vol. 26 , Issue. 22 ]


Khojasteh Malekmohammad, Robert D.E. Sewell and Mahmoud Rafieian-Kopaei*   Pages 2591 - 2601 ( 11 )


Background and objective: Atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of human morbidity globally and reduced bioavailability of vascular nitric oxide (NO) has a critical role in the progression and development of the atherosclerotic disease. Loss of NO bioavailability, for example via a deficiency of the substrate (L-arginine) or cofactors for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), invariably leads to detrimental vascular effects such as impaired endothelial function and increased smooth muscle cell proliferation, deficiency of the substrate (Larginine) or cofactors for eNOS. Various medicinal plants and their bioactive compounds or secondary metabolites with fewer side effects are potentially implicated in preventing cardiovascular disease by increasing NO bioavailability, thereby ameliorating endothelial dysfunction. In this review, we describe the most notable medicinal plants and their bioactive compounds that may be appropriate for enhancing NO bioavailability, and treatment of atherosclerosis.

Methods: The material in this article was obtained from noteworthy scientific databases, including Web of Science, PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Google Scholar.

Results: Medicinal plants and their bioactive compounds influence NO production through diverse mechanisms including the activation of the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) signaling pathway, activating protein kinase C (PKC)-α, stimulating protein tyrosine kinase (PTK), reducing the conversion of nitrite to NO via nitrate-nitrite reduction pathways, induction of eNOS, activating the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/serine threonine protein kinase B (AKT) (PI3K/AKT/eNOS/NO) pathway and decreasing oxidative stress.

Conclusion: Medicinal plants and/or their constituent bioactive compounds may be considered as safe therapeutic options for enhancing NO bioavailability and prospective preventative therapy for atherosclerosis.


Nitric oxide, NO, eNOS, atherosclerosis, medicinal plants, bioactive compounds.


Department of Biology, Faculty of Basic Sciences, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF10 3NB. Wales, Medical Plants Research Center, Basic Health Sciences Institute, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord

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