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Brain Res. 2001 Nov 2;917(2):253-61.

Nitric oxide production is enhanced in rat brain before oxygen-induced convulsions.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Trent Drive Building, CRII Room 0584, P.O. Box 3823, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Central nervous system oxygen toxicity (CNS O2 toxicity) is preceded by release of hyperoxic vasoconstriction, which increases regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). These increases in rCBF precede the onset of O2-induced convulsions. We have tested the hypothesis that hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) stimulates NO* production in the brain that leads to hyperemia and anticipates electrical signs of neurotoxicity. We measured rCBF and EEG responses in rats exposed at 4 to 6 atmospheres (ATA) of HBO2 and correlated them with brain interstitial NO* metabolites (NO(x)) as an index of NO* production. During exposures to hyperbaric oxygen rCBF decreased at 4 ATA, decreased for the initial 30 min at 5 ATA then gradually increased, and increased within 30 min at 6 ATA. Changes in rCBF correlated positively with NO(x) production; increases in rCBF during HBO2 exposure were associated with large increases in NO(x) at 5 and 6 ATA and always preceded EEG discharges as a sign of CNS O2 toxicity. In rats pretreated with L-NAME, rCBF remained maximally decreased throughout 75 min of HBO2 at 4, 5 and 6 ATA. These data provide the first direct evidence that increased NO* production during prolonged HBO2 exposure is responsible for escape from hyperoxic vasoconstriction. The finding suggests that NO* overproduction initiates CNS O2 toxicity by increasing rCBF, which allows excessive O2 to be delivered to the brain.

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