Effects of Nitric Oxide‐Related Agents on Alcohol Narcosis

Michael L. Adams, Edward R. Meyer, Bryan N. Sewing, Theodore J. Cicero

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43 Scopus citations


To examine whether nitric oxide (NO) affects alcohol (ethanol) narcosis, adult male rats were pretreated with a NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor, NG‐nitro‐i‐arginine methyl ester (NAME); a NOS substrate, I‐arginine methyl ester (AME); or a NO donor, isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN); then treated with anesthetic doses (3–5 g/kg, ip) of alcohol. Pretreatment with NAME (30–100 mg/kg, sc) 40 min before alcohol treatment delayed the onset of alcohol‐induced loss of the righting reflex (LORR) and increased the duration of the LORR. NAME (100 mg/kg) pretreatment combined with high doses of alcohol (4–5 g/kg) exerted significant lethal effects, even though treatment with either agent alone or NAME combined with lower doses of alcohol (3–3.5 g/kg) was not lethal. Simultaneous treatment with the NOS substrate AME (100 mg/kg, subcutaneous) blocked the effects of NAME on LORR duration times, but did not alter LORR onset times. The NO donor ISDN (30 mg/kg) given by oral gavage 2 hr before alcohol decreased LORR duration times without affecting the onset of LORR. In addition, ISDN dose‐dependently inhibited NAME‐induced LORR duration increases during alcohol narcosis without significantly altering LORR onset times. Neither ISDN nor NAME significantly altered blood alcohol concentrations. These results suggest that NOS inhibition and subsequent decreases in NO production enhance alcohol‐induced narcosis and that increases in NO concentrations inhibit alcohol narcosis, supporting the hypothesis that inhibition of arginine‐NOS‐NO systems mediates part of the sedative‐hypnotic effect of alcohol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-975
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol Narcosis
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitro‐arginine


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