Nonspecific inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis evokes endothelin-dependent increases in myocardial contractility

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The role of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) in modulating myocardial contractility is still unclear, in part because of unknown, secondary effects of blocking NO release. We hypothesized that the nonspecific inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enhances endothelin-1 (ET-1) effects, which can play a role in ET-A receptor-dependent myocardial contractile responses. The myocardial contractility was estimated from the slope of the left ventricular end-systolic pressure-diameter relationship in closed-chest, pentobarbital-anesthetized dogs. Group 1 (n = 7) was the saline-treated control, while in groups 2 (n = 7) and 3 (n = 7) N-nitro-l-arginine (NNA, 4 mg kg-1), a nonselective NOS blocker, was administered with or without pretreatment with the ET-A receptor antagonist ETR-P1/fl peptide (100 nmol kg-1 iv). Plasma ET-1, nitrite/nitrate (NOx) and blood superoxide levels were measured, and myocardial ET-1 content and xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) activity were determined from myocardial biopsies. The infusion of NNA over 120 min decreased the plasma NOx, significantly elevated the plasma ET-1 and blood superoxide levels, and in parallel greatly increased the left ventricular contractility as compared with the untreated controls [47.5 vs 30 mm Hg mm-1]. The myocardial ET-1 content decreased simultaneously, while the XOR activity and blood superoxide level were significantly elevated. These effects, including NNA-induced positive inotropy, were significantly suppressed by pretreatment with ETR-P1/fl peptide. These results demonstrate that a diminished NO synthesis leads to a preponderant ET-1 effect, which increases myocardial contractility through an ET-A receptor-dependent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalNitric Oxide - Biology and Chemistry
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2009


  • Endothelin-1
  • Endothelin-A receptor
  • Myocardial contractility
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Superoxide
  • Xanthine oxidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research

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