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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;80(11):1106-18.

Effect of in vivo nitrate tolerance on hypersensitivity to NO donors after NO-synthase blockade.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada.


Animals treated with nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors exhibit marked hypersensitivity to the blood pressure lowering effects of exogenous nitric oxide (NO) donors. We used this model as a sensitive index to evaluate the relative importance of reduced biotransformation of glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) to NO in the development of nitrate tolerance. NOS-blockade hypertension using N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) caused a marked enhancement of the mean arterial pressure (MAP) decrease mediated by GTN in nontolerant rats. However, even large doses of GTN were unable to change the MAP in GTN-tolerant, NOS-blockade hypertensive animals. In contrast, the MAP responses to the spontaneous NO donor sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were completely unaltered in either tolerant rats or tolerant NOS-blockade hypertensive animals, indicating that NO-dependent vasodilatory mechanisms remain intact despite the development of GTN tolerance. The MAP-lowering effects of GTN in NOS-blockade hypertensive animals were restored 48 h after cessation of chronic GTN exposure. These alterations in the pharmacodynamic response to GTN during tolerance development and reversal were associated with parallel changes in the pattern of GTN metabolite formation, suggesting that the activity of one or more enzymes involved in nitrate metabolism was altered as a consequence of chronic GTN exposure. These findings suggest that the vasodilation resulting from the vascular biotransformation of GTN to NO (or a closely related species) is severely compromised in nitrate-tolerant animals, and that although other mechanisms may contribute to the vascular changes observed following the development of GTN tolerance, decreased GTN bioactivation is likely the most important.

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