Expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms (NOS II and NOS III) in adult rat lung in hyperoxic pulmonary hypertension

Wolfgang Steudel, Masazumi Watanabe, Krikor Dikranian, Margaretha Jacobson, Rosemary C. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Breathing air with a high oxygen tension induces an inflammatory response and injures the microvessels of the lung. The resulting development of smooth muscle cells in these segments contributes to changes in vasoreactivity and increased pulmonary artery pressure. This in vivo study determines the temporal and spatial expression of endogenous endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS III) and inducible NOS (NOS II), important enzymes regulating vasoreactivity and inflammation, in the adult rat lung during the development of experimental pulmonary hypertension induced by oxidant injury. We analyzed the cellular distribution of these NOS isoforms, using specific antibodies, and assessed enzyme activity at baseline and after 1-28 days of hyperoxia (FIO2 0.87). The number of NOS III-immunopositive endothelial cells increased early in hyperoxia and then remained high. By day 28, the relative number of these cells had increased from 40% in proximal vessels and 13-16% in distal alveolar vessels of the normal lung to 73-86% and 40-59%, respectively, in hyperoxia. Pulmonary alveolar macrophages (PAMs), normally few in number and only weakly immunopositive for NOS II or III in the normal lung, increased in number in hyperoxia and were strongly immunopositive for each isoform. These morphological data were supported by a temporal increase in total and calcium-independent NOS activity. Thus NOS expression and activity significantly increased in hyperoxia as pulmonary hypertension developed, and NOS III expression increased selectively in vascular endothelial cells, while both NOS isoforms were expressed by the PAM population. We conclude that this increase in expression of a potent vasodilator, an antiproliferative agent for smooth muscle cells, and an antioxidant molecule represents an adaptive response to protect the lung from oxidant-induced vascular and epithelial injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Oxygen-induced lung injury
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Rat (Sprague Dawley)


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