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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Jun;286(6):H2249-56. Epub 2004 Jan 29.

Reduced release of nitric oxide to shear stress in mesenteric arteries of aged rats.

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  • 1Dept. of Physiology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.


We hypothesized that aging is characterized by a reduced release of nitric oxide (NO) in response to shear stress in resistance vessels. Mesenteric arterioles and arteries of young (6 mo) and aged (24 mo) male Fischer 344 rats were isolated and cannulated. Shear stress (15 dyn/cm(2))-induced dilation was significantly reduced and shear stress (1, 5, 10, and 15 dyn/cm(2))-induced increases in perfusate nitrite were significantly smaller at all shear stress levels in vessels of aged rats. Inhibition of NO synthesis abolished shear stress-induced release of nitrite. Furthermore, shear stress (15 dyn/cm(2))-induced release of nitrate was significantly higher and total nitrite (nitrite plus nitrate) was significantly lower in vessels of aged rats. Tiron or SOD significantly increased nitrite released from vessels of aged rats, but this was still significantly less than that in young rats. Superoxide production was increased and the activity of SOD was decreased in vessels of aged rats. There were no differences in endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) protein and basal activity or in Cu/Zn-SOD and Mn-SOD proteins in vessels of the two groups, but extracellular SOD was significantly reduced in vessels of aged rats. Maximal release of NO induced by shear stress plus ACh (10(-5) M) was comparable in the two groups, but phospho-eNOS in response to shear stress (15 dyn/cm(2)) was significantly reduced in vessels of aged rats. These data suggest that an increased production of superoxide, a reduced activity of SOD, and an impaired shear stress-induced activation of eNOS are the causes of the decreased shear stress-induced release of NO in vessels of aged rats.

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