Meng W, Ma J, Ayata C, Hara H, Huang PL, Fishman MC, Moskowitz MA. 1996. ACh dilates pial arterioles in endothelial and neuronal NOS knockout mice by NO-dependent mechanisms. The American journal of physiology. 271(3 Pt 2):H1145-50. Pubmed: 8853353


We used mice with deletions in either the endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) or neuronal NOS (nNOS) gene to investigate the role of eNOS and nNOS in acetylcholine (ACh)-induced relaxation of pial arterioles (20-30 microns). Pial arteriolar diameter was measured by intravital microscopy through a closed cranial window, and NOS activity was determined by the conversion of [3H]arginine to [3H]citrulline in subjacent cortex. ACh superfusion (1, 10 microM) caused atropine-sensitive dose-dependent arteriolar dilation in all three mouse strains. At 10 microM, increases of 20 +/- 2, 31 +/- 3, and 23 +/- 3% were recorded in wild-type (n = 25), nNOS mutant (n = 15), and eNOS mutant (n = 20) mice, respectively. NG-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA, 1 mM) superfusion inhibited cortical NOS activity by > 70% and abrogated the response in wild-type mice while blocking the dilation by approximately 50% in eNOS mutant and nNOS mutant mice. Only in the eNOS mutant did tetrodotoxin (TTX) superfusion (1 microM) attenuate ACh-induced dilation (n = 6). The residual dilation after L-NNA in eNOS mutant mice could be blocked completely by TTX-plus L-NNA. Our findings indicate that 1) ACh dilates pial arterioles of wild-type mice by NOS-dependent mechanisms as reported in other species, 2) the response in nNOS mutant mice resembles the wild-type response except for enhanced dilation to ACh and reduced L-NNA sensitivity, and 3) surprisingly, the response in eNOS mutant mice is partially NOS dependent and attenuated by both TTX and L-NNA. Because nNOS is constitutively expressed in eNOS mutants, these findings coupled with the TTX results suggest that an nNOS-dependent mechanism may compensate for the chronic loss of eNOS activity after targeted gene disruption.

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Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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