iNOS gene expression modulates microvascular responsiveness in endotoxin-challenged mice.

W. A. Boyle, L. S. Parvathaneni, V. Bourlier, C. Sauter, V. E. Laubach, J. P. Cobb

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Septic shock is characterized by vasodilation and decreased responsiveness to vasoconstrictors. Recent studies suggest this results from nitric oxide (NO) overproduction after expression of the calcium-independent isoform of NO synthase (iNOS) in smooth muscle cells. However, direct evidence linking iNOS (NOS2) expression and decreased microvascular responsiveness after septic stimuli is lacking. In the present study, we determined the effect of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 20 mg/kg, IP) on smooth muscle contraction and endothelial relaxation in mesenteric resistance arteries from wild-type and iNOS knockout mice. Four hours after challenge with LPS or saline in vivo, concentration-dependent responses to norepinephrine (NE) and acetylcholine (NE+ACh) were measured in cannulated, pressurized vessels ex vivo. In vessels from wild-type mice, NE-induced contraction was markedly impaired after LPS, and pretreatment with the iNOS inhibitor aminoguanidine (AG) partly restored the NE contraction. In contrast, NE contraction in microvessels from iNOS knockout mice was unaffected by LPS. ACh-induced relaxation was unaffected by LPS in vessels from either genotype. These data provide direct evidence that iNOS gene expression mediates the LPS-induced decrease in microvascular responsiveness to vasoconstrictors. Moreover, the observation that AG did not fully restore NE contraction after LPS, whereas iNOS gene deficiency did, suggests that iNOS expression plays a central role in the development of the NO-independent effect of LPS on microvascular responsiveness. Finally, our data indicate that LPS or iNOS expression has little effect on endothelium-dependent relaxation, and eNOS activity does not appear to play a role in the decreased smooth muscle responsiveness after LPS in this model. The full text of this article is available at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E18-24
JournalCirculation research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 29 2000


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