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Respir Res. 2005 Mar 4;6:23.

Arginase attenuates inhibitory nonadrenergic noncholinergic nerve-induced nitric oxide generation and airway smooth muscle relaxation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, University Centre for Pharmacy, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands. h.maarsingh@rug.nl



Recent evidence suggests that endogenous arginase activity potentiates airway responsiveness to methacholine by attenuation of agonist-induced nitric oxide (NO) production, presumably by competition with epithelial constitutive NO synthase for the common substrate, L-arginine. Using guinea pig tracheal open-ring preparations, we now investigated the involvement of arginase in the modulation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)-mediated relaxation induced by inhibitory nonadrenergic noncholinergic (iNANC) nerve stimulation.


Electrical field stimulation (EFS; 150 mA, 4 ms, 4 s, 0.5 - 16 Hz)-induced relaxation was measured in tracheal preparations precontracted to 30% with histamine, in the presence of 1 microM atropine and 3 microM indomethacin. The contribution of NO to the EFS-induced relaxation was assessed by the nonselective NOS inhibitor L-NNA (0.1 mM), while the involvement of arginase activity in the regulation of EFS-induced NO production and relaxation was investigated by the effect of the specific arginase inhibitor nor-NOHA (10 microM). Furthermore, the role of substrate availability to nNOS in EFS-induced relaxation was measured in the presence of various concentrations of exogenous L-arginine.


EFS induced a frequency-dependent relaxation, ranging from 6.6 +/- 0.8% at 0.5 Hz to 74.6 +/- 1.2% at 16 Hz, which was inhibited with the NOS inhibitor L-NNA by 78.0 +/- 10.5% at 0.5 Hz to 26.7 +/- 7.7% at 8 Hz (P < 0.01 all). In contrast, the arginase inhibitor nor-NOHA increased EFS-induced relaxation by 3.3 +/- 1.2-fold at 0.5 Hz to 1.2 +/- 0.1-fold at 4 Hz (P < 0.05 all), which was reversed by L-NNA to the level of control airways in the presence of L-NNA (P < 0.01 all). Similar to nor-NOHA, exogenous L-arginine increased EFS-induced airway relaxation (P < 0.05 all).


The results indicate that endogenous arginase activity attenuates iNANC nerve-mediated airway relaxation by inhibition of NO generation, presumably by limiting L-arginine availability to nNOS.

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