Chronic Low-Dose L-NAME Treatment Increases Nitric Oxide Production and Vasorelaxation in Normotensive Rats
N G-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) is a non-specific nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor, commonly used for the induction of NO-deficient hypertension. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of chronic low-dose administration of L-NAME on NO production, vascular function and structure of the heart and selected arteries of rats. Adult male Wistar rats were treated with L-NAME in the dose of approximately 1.5 mg/kg/day in drinking water for 8 weeks. Basal blood pressure (BP)
... of rats (determined by tail-cuff) was 112±3 mm Hg. The low-dose administration of L-NAME significantly elevated BP measured on the third and sixth week of treatment vs. controls by approximately 9 % and 12 %, respectively. After this period, BP of L-NAME-treated rats returned to the control values. The relative left ventricular mass, heart fibrosis and collagen III/collagen I ratio were not affected by L-NAME. Similarly, there were no alterations in the cross-sectional area and wall thickness/diameter ratio of the aorta and the femoral artery of L-NAME-treated rats. NO synthase activity (determined by conversion of [ 3 H]-L-arginine to [ 3 H]-L-citrulline) was not altered in the hypothalamus of L-NAME-treated rats. Interestingly, chronic low-dose L-NAME treatment significantly elevated NO synthase activity in the left ventricle and aorta, increased endothelium-dependent acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation and reduced serotonin-induced vasoconstriction of the femoral artery. The data suggest that chronic low-dose L-NAME treatment can increase NO production and vasorelaxation in normotensive rats without negative structural changes in the cardiovascular system.