Contribution of oxygen radicals to altered NO-dependent pulmonary vasodilation in acute and chronic hypoxia. Academic Article uri icon


  • Chronic hypoxia (CH) increases pulmonary arterial endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS) expression and augments endothelium-derived nitric oxide (EDNO)-dependent vasodilation, whereas vasodilatory responses to exogenous NO are attenuated in CH rat lungs. We hypothesized that reactive oxygen species (ROS) inhibit NO-dependent pulmonary vasodilation following CH. To test this hypothesis, we examined responses to the EDNO-dependent vasodilator endothelin-1 (ET-1) and the NO donor S-nitroso-N-acetyl penicillamine (SNAP) in isolated lungs from control and CH rats in the presence or absence of ROS scavengers under normoxic or hypoxic ventilation. NOS was inhibited in lungs used for SNAP experiments to eliminate influences of endogenously produced NO. Additionally, dichlorofluorescein (DCF) fluorescence was measured as an index of ROS levels in isolated pressurized small pulmonary arteries from each group. We found that acute hypoxia increased DCF fluorescence and attenuated vasodilatory responses to ET-1 in lungs from control rats. The addition of ROS scavengers augmented ET-1-induced vasodilation in lungs from both groups during hypoxic ventilation. In contrast, upon NOS inhibition, DCF fluorescence was elevated and SNAP-induced vasodilation diminished in arteries from CH rats during normoxia, whereas acute hypoxia decreased DCF fluorescence, which correlated with augmented reactivity to SNAP in both groups. ROS scavengers enhanced SNAP-induced vasodilation in normoxia-ventilated lungs from CH rats similar to effects of hypoxic ventilation. We conclude that inhibition of NOS during normoxia leads to greater ROS generation in lungs from both control and CH rats. Furthermore, NOS inhibition reveals an effect of acute hypoxia to diminish ROS levels and augment NO-mediated pulmonary vasodilation.

publication date

  • May 2004