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Brain Res. 1995 Oct 9;695(1):37-44.

NADPH-diaphorase activity and Fos expression in brain nuclei following nitroglycerin administration.

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Department of Neurology, C. Mondino Foundation, University of Pavia, Italy.


Organic nitrates are considered nitric oxide donors in that they have been shown to form nitric oxide in vitro and in vivo. Nitroglycerin is an organic nitrate which possesses peculiar activities mediated, to some extent, by the central nervous system via the noradrenergic system. Previous reports have shown that systemic nitroglycerin is able to induce Fos expression in brain nuclei which are known to contain nitric oxide synthesizing enzyme. Neuronal NADPH-diaphorase has been shown to be a nitric oxide synthase. Thus, in this study we used NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry to evaluate the distribution of Fos-immunoreactive cells within neurons which contain nitric oxide synthase. The data showed co-localization of Fos with NADPH-diaphorase activity in numerous neurons of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus. In the brainstem, a few neurons were doubly labeled for Fos and NADPH-diaphorase activity, but NADPH-diaphorase positive fibers and Fos-immunoreactive neurons were consistently co-distributed in the locus coeruleus, parabrachial nucleus, nucleus tractus solitarius and spinal trigeminal nucleus caudalis. These findings demonstrate that nitroglycerin administration activates a selective group of neurons which are a source of nitric oxide or which are in close proximity with neuronal processes containing nitric oxide synthase, and suggest that the nitric oxide synthase synthesizing pathway may be involved at various levels in the central effect of nitroglycerin.

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