Intraspinal microinjection of the nonspecific nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) was used to determine if inhibition of NOS results in morphological changes in the rat spinal cord. Following spinal injections of 100-750 mM L-NAME (pH 7.0), 1.0- 500 mM L-NAME (pH 2.5-5.4), or L-NAME + L-arginine, quantitative analysis of morphological changes revealed a positive dose-response relationship between L-NAME and neuronal loss. This effect was blocked by L-arginine and was inversely related to spinal levels of NOS enzyme activity. Results of this study have shown the importance of basal NOS activity in maintaining the structural integrity of spinal neurons. It is proposed that the effects of L- NAME on nitric oxide (NO) production leads to decreased blood flow, secondary to vasoconstriction, and a hypoxic-ischemic reaction in spinal tissue. The results suggest that a potential contributing factor to neuronal damage in pathological conditions such as spinal cord injury may be the decreased production of nitric oxide.
- Neuronal loss
- Nitric oxide
- Spinal cord injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism