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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):G423-30. Epub 2005 Oct 20.

Cyclical upregulated iNOS and long-term downregulated nNOS are the bases for relapse and quiescent phases in a rat model of IBD.

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  • 1Edificio V, Unidad de Fisiología, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain.


We previously reported that indomethacin induces a chronic intestinal inflammation in the rat where the cyclical characteristic phases of Crohn's disease are manifested with a few days' interval and lasting for several months: active phase (high inflammation, hypomotility, bacterial translocation) and reactive phase (low inflammation, hypermotility, no bacterial translocation). In this study, we investigated the possible role of both constitutive and inducible isoforms of nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX) in the cyclicity of active and reactive phases in rats with chronic intestinal inflammation. Rats selected at either active or reactive phases and from 2 to 60 days after indomethacin treatment were used. mRNA expression of both constitutive and inducible NOS and COX isoforms in each phase was evaluated by RT-PCR and cellular enzyme localization by immunohistochemistry. The effects of different COX and NOS inhibitors on the intestinal motor activity were tested. mRNA expression of COX-1 was not modified by inflammation, whereas mRNA expression of neuronal NOS was reduced in all indomethacin-treated rats. In contrast, NOS and COX inducible forms showed a cyclical oscillation. mRNA expression and protein of both iNOS and COX-2 increased only during active phases. The intestinal hypomotility associated with active phases was turned into hypermotility after the administration of selective iNOS inhibitors. Sustained downregulation of constitutive NOS caused hypermotility, possibly as a defense mechanism. However, this reaction was masked during the active phases due to the inhibitory effects of NO resulting from the increased levels of the inducible NOS isoform.

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