Background & Aims: Helicobacter pyloriinduced immune responses fail to eradicate the bacterium. Nitric oxide (NO) can kill H pylori. However, translation of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and NO generation by H pyloristimulated macrophages is inhibited by the polyamine spermine derived from ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), and is dependent on availability of the iNOS substrate L-arginine (L-Arg). We determined if spermine inhibits iNOS-mediated immunity by reducing L-Arg uptake into macrophages. Methods: Levels of the inducible cationic amino acid transporter (CAT)2, ODC, and iNOS were measured in macrophages and H pylori gastritis tissues. L-Arg uptake, iNOS expression, and NO levels were assessed in cells with small interfering RNA knockdown of CAT2 or ODC, and in gastric macrophages. The ODC inhibitor, α- difluoromethylornithine, was administered to H pyloriinfected mice for 4 months after inoculation. Results: H pylori induced CAT2 and uptake of L-Arg in RAW 264.7 or primary macrophages. Addition of spermine or knockdown of CAT2 inhibited L-Arg uptake, NO production, and iNOS protein levels, whereas knockdown of ODC had the opposite effect. CAT2 and ODC were increased in mouse and human H pylori gastritis tissues and localized to macrophages. Gastric macrophages from H pyloriinfected mice showed increased ODC expression, and attenuated iNOS and NO levels upon ex vivo H pylori stimulation versus cells from uninfected mice. α-Difluoromethylornithine treatment of infected mice restored L-Arg uptake, iNOS protein expression, and NO production in gastric macrophages, and significantly reduced both H pylori colonization levels and gastritis severity. Conclusions: Up-regulation of ODC in gastric macrophages impairs host defense against H pylori by suppressing iNOS-derived NO production.
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