Clinical and experimental pharmacology & physiology

Nitric oxide synthase activity in the abdominal aorta of rats is decreased after 4 weeks of simulated microgravity.

PMID 21711383


1. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of simulated microgravity on the arterial dilatory responsiveness and L-arginine (L-Arg)-nitric oxide (NO)-cGMP pathway in the abdominal aorta of rats. 2. Twenty healthy male Sprague-Dawley were randomly divided into control and simulated microgravity groups. Rats in the simulated microgravity group were subjected to hindlimb unweighting (HU). After 4 weeks, arterial dilatory responsiveness was examined in vitro in isolated abdominal aortic rings. Western blotting was used to measure endothelial (e) and inducible (i) NO synthase (NOS) protein content. Total concentrations of nitrate and nitrite (NO(x)), the stable metabolites of NO, were determined by the chemiluminescence method. Nitric oxide synthase activity in the abdominal aorta was determined through the conversion of [(3)H]-L-Arg to [(3)H]-L-citrulline. 3. The data showed that the dilatory responses of the arterial rings to L-Arg and acetylcholine decreased in rats exposed to simulated microgravity, but the dilatory responses to sodium nitroprusside and 8-bromo-cGMP were similar in both simulated microgravity and control rats. The expression of eNOS and iNOS did not differ significantly between the two groups. The NO(x) concentration in the abdominal aorta of HU rats was significantly less than that in control rats. Nitric oxide synthase activity in the aorta decreased after 4 weeks of HU. 4. The data indicate that endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in the abdominal aorta decreased due to 4 weeks of simulated microgravity in rats and that this impaired dilatory responsiveness may result from decreased NOS activity.