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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jun;40(6):670-80.

Changes in the expression and distribution of the inducible and endothelial nitric oxide synthase in mucosal biopsy specimens of inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 12nd Department of Internal Medicine, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary.



The role of nitric oxide (NO) in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and localization of nitric oxide synthase isoforms (iNOS, eNOS) in IBD colonic mucosa.


Forty-four patients with IBD (24 ulcerative colitis (UC), 20 Crohn's disease (CD) and 16 controls) were investigated by colonoscopy. iNOS and eNOS in tissue sections was demonstrated by histochemistry (NADPH-diaphorase reaction) and immunohistochemistry. Cell type analysis and quantitative assessment of the iNOS immunoreactive (IR) cells and densitometry of iNOS in immunoblots were also performed.


iNOS-IR cells were significantly numerous in inflamed mucosa of UC (64+/-4 cells/mm2) than in CD (4+/-2 cells/mm2). iNOS-IR/CD15-IR cells showed significant elevation in inflamed (i) versus uninflamed (u) UC mucosa (UCu 8+/-3%, UCi 85+/-10%) In CD, the percentage of iNOS-IR/CD68-IR cells was lower in inflamed sites (CDu 23+/-8%, CDi 4+/-3%). Immunoblot of biopsies revealed significant elevation of iNOS in active UC compared with uninflamed sites, whereas in CD no significant changes were detected. Differences were observed in eNOS and endothelial marker CD31 immunoreactivity. In patients with UC and in controls the ratios of eNOS/CD31-IR vessels were 82.3% and 92.0% respectively, whereas in CD the ratio was 8.3% with a concomitantly significant increase of CD31-IR vessels. The distribution and morphological characteristics of the NOS-IR inflammatory cells and endothelia were similar to those showing NADPH-diaphorase reactivity.


Differences observed in the expression and distribution of NOS isoforms in immune and endothelial cells may contribute to better understanding of the structural and physiological changes in UC and CD.

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