Nitric oxide level regulates the embryonic development of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis: Pharmacological, behavioral, and ultrastructural studies

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On the basis of the distribution of NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) activity, we have previously suggested a role for nitric oxide (NO) in the development of Lymnaea stagnalis. In the present study, the long-term effects of NO donors (sodium nitroprusside, S-nitroso-N-acetyl-penicillamine) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors (nitro-L-arginine methyl-ester [L-NAME], NG-nitro-L-arginine [L-NOARG]) were tested on the survival, length of embryonic (intracapsular) life, locomotion (gliding), heartbeat activity and feeding behavior, as well as on the ultrastructure of the developing ganglia in the embryonic Lymnaea. No effect of any of the substances applied can be observed under 10-5 M concentration, whereas at 10-3 M concentration both kinds of treatment proved to be toxic. Between 10-5 M and 10-3 M concentrations the effects are reversible. At 10-4 M concentration, NO donors slightly increase the frequency of gliding and heartbeat of E70% embryos, and evoke a more than twofold enhancement of the feeding activity, i.e., the frequency of radula protrusions in the E90% embryonic stage. In contrast, NOS inhibitors at 10-4 M concentration strongly inhibit the locomotion and heartbeat of E70% embryos, and the feeding of E90% embryos. Under 10-3 M concentration, L-arginine diminishes the effect of NOARG, whereas the D-isomer of NAME has little or no significant effect. Neither type of treatment alters the course of gangliogenesis, and the light-microscopic appearance of neurons also remains unaffected. Ultrastructural analysis of the central nervous system of E90% embryos treated with 10-4 M NOS inhibitors revealed a significant reduction of the glycogen granule content and accumulation of lipid droplets in a number of the neuronal perikarya, as well as the occurrence of disintegrated mitochondria in axonal profiles. The effect of 10-4 M NO donors is mainly characterized by the increased number of lysosomes, disintegrated mitochondria and degenerating axonal profiles. The present findings suggest that NO is involved in the regulation of different behaviors and physiological functions, such as feeding activity, locomotion and heartbeat, during the embryonic development of Lymnaea. Changes observed in neuronal ultrastructure in ganglia seem to indicate NOergic regulatory processes at the central level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalCell And Tissue Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 10 2002


  • Behavior
  • Embryonic development
  • Lymnaea stagnalis (Mollusca)
  • Nitric oxide
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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