Acute and prolonged hypoxia attenuate endothelial nitric oxide production in rat pulmonary arteries by different mechanisms

P. W. Shaul, L. B. Wells, K. M. Horning

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81 Scopus citations


Hypoxic pulmonary hypertension complicates many primary respiratory and cardiac conditions. To define the potential role of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) further in both the acute and chronic forms of this disorder, we determined the effects of acute changes in O2in vitro and prolonged variations in O2in vivo on endothelial NO production in rat main pulmonary arteries. NO production was assessed by measuring segment cyclic GMP synthesis, which was dependent on the presence of the endothelium and on NO synthase and soluble guanylate cyclase activity. With an acute decrease in pO2in vitro from 150 to 40 mm Hg, basal endothelial NO production was attenuated by 52%. NO production stimulated by acetylcholine (ACh) or A23187, however, was not altered, suggesting that the underlying mechanism involves acute changes in endothelial intracellular calcium homeostasis or in the production or action of a local activator of endothelial NO synthase. Although prolonged hypoxia in vivo (7 days) also caused a 52% decrease in basal endothelial NO production, ACh- and A23187-stimulated production were diminished as well, by 69 and 73%, respectively; the attenuation in NO production was evident when tested at high pO2in vitro, was not altered by exogenous L-arginine, and was reversed by 3 days of normoxic recovery, indicating that the chronic process may involve diminished availability of cofactor(s) required for NO synthase activity. Parallel studies of aortic segments showed that these effects are specific to the pulmonary endothelium. Thus, both acute and prolonged hypoxia selectively attenuate pulmonary endothelial NO production by different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-827
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993


  • Aorta
  • Arginine
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Pulmonary hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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