Endothelial dysfunction does not require loss of endothelial nitric oxide synthase

Roberto R. Giraldez, Alexander Panda, Jay L. Zweier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas altered nitric oxide (NO·) formation from endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS) causes impaired vascular reactivity in a number of cardiovascular diseases, questions remain regarding how endothelial injury results in impaired NO· formation. It is unknown if loss of NOS expression or activity is required or if other factors are involved. Detergent treatment has been used to induce endothelial dysfunction. Therefore, NOS and NO· synthesis were characterized in a rat heart model of endothelial injury and dysfunction induced by the detergent Triton X-100. Cardiac NO· formation was directly measured by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. NOS activity was determined by the L-[14C]arginine conversion assay. Western blots and immunohistology were applied to define the amounts of NOS present in heart tissue before and after Triton treatment. Immunoelectron microscopy was performed to assess intracellular NOS distribution. A short bolus of Triton X-100, 0.25%, abolished responses to histamine and calcium ionophore while preserving response to nitroprusside. Complete blockade of NO· generation occurred after Triton treatment, but NOS activity assayed with addition of exogenous substrate and cofactors was unchanged, and identical 135-kDa NOS bands were seen on Western blots, indicating that NOS was not removed from the heart or structurally damaged by Triton. Immunohistochemistry showed no change in NOS localization after Triton treatment, and immunoelectron microscopy revealed similar NOS distribution in the plasma membrane and intracellular membranes. These results demonstrate that the endothelial dysfunction was due to decreased NO· synthesis but was not caused by loss or denaturation of NOS. Thus endothelial dysfunction due to mild endothelial membrane injury may occur in the presence of active NOS and is triggered by loss of NOS substrates or cofactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 47-6
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Endothelium-derived relaxing factor
  • Oxygen free radicals
  • Triton X-100
  • Vascular reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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