To date, studies suggest that biological signaling by nitric oxide (NO) is primarily mediated by cGMP, which is synthesized by NO-activated guanylyl cyclases and broken down by cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs). Effects of cGMP occur through three main groups of cellular targets: cGMP-dependent protein kinases (PKGs), cGMP-gated cation channels, and PDEs. cGMP binding activates PKG, which phosphorylates serines and threonines on many cellular proteins, frequently resulting in changes in activity or function, subcellular localization, or regulatory features. The proteins that are so modified by PKG commonly regulate calcium homeostasis, calcium sensitivity of cellular proteins, platelet activation and adhesion, smooth muscle contraction, cardiac function, gene expression, feedback of the NO-signaling pathway, and other processes. Current therapies that have successfully targeted the NO-signaling pathway include nitrovasodilators (nitroglycerin), PDE5 inhibitors [sildenafil (Viagra and Revatio), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis and Adcirca)] for treatment of a number of vascular diseases including angina pectoris, erectile dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension; the PDE3 inhibitors [cilostazol (Pletal) and milrinone (Primacor)] are used for treatment of intermittent claudication and acute heart failure, respectively. Potential for use of these medications in the treatment of other maladies continues to emerge.
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- Copyright © 2010 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics