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J Neurochem. 1996 Apr;66(4):1683-90.

Ex vivo measurement of brain tissue nitrite and nitrate accurately reflects nitric oxide synthase activity in vivo.

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  • 1Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent, England.


The ex vivo tissue concentration of nitrite and nitrate (NOx) was found to correlate closely with the activity of nitric oxide synthase (NOS; EC in various brain regions. Systemic administration of the nonselective NOS inhibitor N omega-nitro-L-arginine (L-NA) at doses that completely inhibited both central and peripheral NOS, depleted whole-brain and CSF NOx by up to 75% but had no effect on plasma NOx. Selective inhibition of central NOS by intracerebroventricular administration of L-NA methyl ester produced similar decreases in levels of whole-brain NOx. A residual concentration of NOx of 10-15 microM remained in all brain regions even after complete inhibition of brain NOS. Brain NOx content decreased rapidly and in parallel with the inhibition of brain NOS. The ex vivo measurement of levels of brain NOx was found to reflect the in vivo efficacy of several different types of NOS inhibitor: L-NA, N omega-monomethyl-l-arginine, and 7-nitroindazole. Intraperitoneal administration of the NOS substrate L-arginine increased brain NOx concentrations by up to 150% of control values. These results demonstrate that the ex vivo measurement of levels of brain tissue NOx is a rapid, reliable, and straightforward technique to determine NOS activity in vivo. This method can be used to assess both the regional distribution and the degree of inhibition of NOS activity in vivo.

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