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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):L596-604. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00029.2010. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

Nitric oxide suppression of cellular proliferation depends on cationic amino acid transporter activity in cytokine-stimulated pulmonary endothelial cells.

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Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2011 Jul;301(1):L135. Chicione, Louis G [corrected to Chicoine, Louis G].


Inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS) is a stress response protein upregulated in inflammatory conditions, and NO may suppress cellular proliferation. We hypothesized that preventing L-arginine (L-arg) uptake in endothelial cells would prevent lipopolysaccharide/tumor necrosis factor-α (LPS/TNF)-induced, NO-mediated suppression of cellular proliferation. Bovine pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (bPAEC) were treated with LPS/TNF or vehicle (control), and either 10 mM L-leucine [L-leu; a competitive inhibitor of L-arg uptake by the cationic amino acid transporter (CAT)] or its vehicle. In parallel experiments, iNOS or arginase II were overexpressed in bPAEC using an adenoviral vector (AdiNOS or AdArgII, respectively). LPS/TNF treatment increased the expression of iNOS, arginase II, CAT-1, and CAT-2 mRNA in bPAEC, resulting in greater NO and urea production than in control bPAEC, which was prevented by L-leu. LPS/TNF treatment resulted in fewer viable cells than in controls, and LPS/TNF-stimulated bPAEC treated with L-leu had more viable cells than LPS/TNF treatment alone. LPS/TNF treatment resulted in cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase expression, which was attenuated by L-leu. AdiNOS reduced viable cell number, and treatment of AdiNOS transfected bPAEC with L-leu preserved cell number. AdArgII increased viable cell number, and treatment of AdArgII transfected bPAEC with L-leu prevented the increase in cell number. These data demonstrate that iNOS expression in pulmonary endothelial cells leads to decreased cellular proliferation, which can be attenuated by preventing cellular L-arg uptake. We speculate that CAT activity may represent a novel therapeutic target in inflammatory lung diseases characterized by NO overproduction.

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