Nitric oxide (NO) is a diatomic free radical produced from L-arginine by constitutive and inducible nitric oxide synthase (cNOS and iNOS) in numerous mammalian cells and tissues. Nitric oxide (NO), superoxide (O2-) and their reaction product peroxynitrite (ONOO-) may be generated in excess during the host response against viral and antibacterial infections and contribute to some pathogenesis by promoting oxidative stress, tissue injury and, even, cancer. Oxidative damage, caused by action of free radicals, may initiate and promote the progression of a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and inflammation. The mechanism of inflammation injury is attributed, in part, to release of reactive oxygen species from activated neutrophils and macrophages. ROS propagate inflammation by stimulating release of mediators such as NO and cytokines. The interest of the research is motivated by the current need to find new substances of natural origin which have demonstrated effectiveness in the described fields of application and low degree of toxicity for humans. Natural products provide a vast pool of NO inhibitors that can possibly be developed into clinical products. This article reviews some plenolic secondary metabolites from plants with NO inhibitory properties and their structure-activity relationship studies that can be focused for drug development programs.
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