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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 May;25(5):e339-52. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12120. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Heme deficiency of soluble guanylate cyclase induces gastroparesis.

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Heymans Institute of Pharmacology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



Soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is the principal target of nitric oxide (NO) to control gastrointestinal motility. The consequence on nitrergic signaling and gut motility of inducing a heme-free status of sGC, as induced by oxidative stress, was investigated.


sGCβ1 (H105F) knock-in (apo-sGC) mice, which express heme-free sGC that has basal activity, but cannot be stimulated by NO, were generated.


Diethylenetriamine NONOate did not increase sGC activity in gastrointestinal tissue of apo-sGC mice. Exogenous NO did not induce relaxation in fundic, jejunal and colonic strips, and pyloric rings of apo-sGC mice. The stomach was enlarged in apo-sGC mice with hypertrophy of the muscularis externa of the fundus and pylorus. In addition, gastric emptying and intestinal transit were delayed and whole-gut transit time was increased in the apo-sGC mice, while distal colonic transit time was maintained. The nitrergic relaxant responses to electrical field stimulation at 1-4 Hz were abolished in fundic and jejunal strips from apo-sGC mice, but in pyloric rings and colonic strips, only the response at 1 Hz was abolished, indicating the contribution of other transmitters than NO.


The results indicate that the gastrointestinal consequences of switching from a native sGC to a heme-free sGC, which cannot be stimulated by NO, are most pronounced at the level of the stomach establishing a pivotal role of the activation of sGC by NO in normal gastric functioning. In addition, delayed intestinal transit was observed, indicating that nitrergic activation of sGC also plays a role in the lower gastrointestinal tract.

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