Nitric oxide (NO), generated by NO synthase (NOS), is an important mediator of physiological processes in the airway and lung parenchyma, and there is evidence that the pulmonary expression of the endothelial isoform of NOS (eNOS) is developmentally regulated. The purpose of the present study was to delineate the cellular distribution of expression of eNOS in the developing respiratory epithelium and to compare it with inducible (iNOS) and neuronal (nNOS) NOS. Immunohistochemistry was performed on fetal (125-135 days gestation, term 144 days), newborn (2-4 wk), and maternal sheep lungs. In fetal lung, eNOS expression was evident in bronchial and proximal bronchiolar epithelia but was absent in terminal and respiratory bronchioles and alveolar epithelium. Similar to eNOS, iNOS was detected in bronchial and proximal bronchiolar epithelia but not in alveolar epithelium. However, iNOS was also detected in terminal and respiratory bronchioles. nNOS was found in epithelium at all levels including the alveolar wall. iNOS and nNOS were also detected in airway and vascular smooth muscle. The cellular distribution of all three isoforms was similar in fetal, newborn, and adult lungs. Findings in the epithelium were confirmed by isoform-specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays and NADPH diaphorase histochemistry. Thus the three NOS isoforms are commonly expressed in proximal lung epithelium and are differentially expressed in distal lung epithelium. All three isoforms may be important sources of epithelium-derived NO throughout lung development.
- Inducible nitric oxide synthase
- Neuronal nitric oxide synthase
- Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase
- Smooth muscle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)