The Journal of experimental biology

Metabolic fates and effects of nitrite in brown trout under normoxic and hypoxic conditions: blood and tissue nitrite metabolism and interactions with branchial NOS, Na+/K+-ATPase and hsp70 expression.

PMID 25908056


Nitrite secures essential nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability in hypoxia at low endogenous concentrations, whereas it becomes toxic at high concentrations. We exposed brown trout to normoxic and hypoxic water in the absence and presence of added ambient nitrite to decipher the cellular metabolism and effects of nitrite at basal and elevated concentrations under different oxygen regimes. We also tested hypotheses concerning the influence of nitrite on branchial nitric oxide synthase (NOS), Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase (nka) and heat shock protein (hsp70) mRNA expression. Basal plasma and erythrocyte nitrite levels were higher in hypoxia than normoxia, suggesting increased NOS activity. Nitrite exposure strongly elevated nitrite concentrations in plasma, erythrocytes, heart tissue and white muscle, which was associated with an extensive metabolism of nitrite to nitrate and to iron-nitrosylated and S-nitrosated compounds. Nitrite uptake was slightly higher in hypoxia than normoxia, and high internal nitrite levels extensively converted blood hemoglobin to methemoglobin and nitrosylhemoglobin. Hypoxia increased inducible NOS (iNOS) mRNA levels in the gills, which was overruled by a strong inhibition of iNOS expression by nitrite in both normoxia and hypoxia, suggesting negative-feedback regulation of iNOS gene expression by nitrite. A similar inhibition was absent for neuronal NOS. Branchial NKA activity stayed unchanged, but mRNA levels of the nkaα1a subunit increased with hypoxia and nitrite, which may have countered an initial NKA inhibition. Nitrite also increased hsp70 gene expression, probably contributing to the cytoprotective effects of nitrite at low concentrations. Nitrite displays a concentration-dependent switch between positive and negative effects similar to other signaling molecules.