Expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in ciliated epithelia of rats

Xinhua Zhan, Dechun Li, Roger A. Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), originally found in the endothelium of vascular tissue, also exists in other cell types, including ciliated epithelia of airways. The eNOS is ultrastructurally localized to the basal body of the microtubules of the cilia, and nitric oxide (NO) stimulates ciliary beat frequency (CBF). We examined whether the expression of eNOS is present in ciliated cells of other organs. Western blotting analysis revealed that eNOS was expressed in the rat cerebrum, lung, trachea, testis, and oviduct. Immunohistochemical staining showed that eNOS was localized in the ciliated epithelia of airways, oviduct, testis, and ependymal cells of brain in addition to the endothelium and smooth muscle of the vasculature. To confirm the activation of eNOS in the ciliated epithelia, we examined the effect of L-arginine (L-Arg), the substrate of NOS, on the production of nitrite and nitrate (NOx) in the cultured explants of rat trachea. L-Arg (100 μM) increased NOx levels significantly (p<0.05). In explants exposed to inhibitors of NOS, the effect of L-Arg on the production of NOx was blocked. These findings suggest that epithelial NO plays an important role in signal transduction associated with ciliary functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Airway
  • Ciliated epithelium
  • Endothelial nitric oxide
  • Ependyma
  • Oviduct
  • Synthase
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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