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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Sep 1;95(18):10966-71.

Interaction between inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 after cerebral ischemia.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Focal cerebral ischemia is associated with expression of both inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), enzymes whose reaction products contribute to the evolution of ischemic brain injury. We tested the hypothesis that, after cerebral ischemia, nitric oxide (NO) produced by iNOS enhances COX-2 activity, thereby increasing the toxic potential of this enzyme. Cerebral ischemia was produced by middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats or mice. Twenty-four hours after ischemia in rats, iNOS-immunoreactive neutrophils were observed in close proximity (<20 micrometer) to COX-2-positive cells at the periphery of the infarct. In the olfactory bulb, only COX-2 positive cells were observed. Cerebral ischemia increased the concentration of the COX-2 reaction product prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in the ischemic area and in the ipsilateral olfactory bulb. The iNOS inhibitor aminoguanidine reduced PGE2 concentration in the infarct, where both iNOS and COX-2 were expressed, but not in the olfactory bulb, where only COX-2 was expressed. Postischemic PGE2 accumulation was reduced significantly in iNOS null mice compared with wild-type controls (C57BL/6 or SV129). The data provide evidence that NO produced by iNOS influences COX-2 activity after focal cerebral ischemia. Pro-inflammatory prostanoids and reactive oxygen species produced by COX-2 may be a previously unrecognized factor by which NO contributes to ischemic brain injury. The pathogenic effect of the interaction between NO, or a derived specie, and COX-2 is likely to play a role also in other brain diseases associated with inflammation.

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