Enhanced nitric oxide (NO) generation by stimulated NO synthase (NOS) activity may, through its oxidative metabolism contribute to tissue injury in experimental colitis. In this study the possible amelioration of experimental colitis by NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of NOS activity, was evaluated. Colitis was induced in rats by intracolonic administration of 30 mg trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNB) dissolved in 0.25 ml 50% ethanol or by flushing the colon of capsaicin pretreated rats with 2 ml of 5% acetic acid. In several experiments, L-NAME 0.1 mg/ml was added to the drinking water at the time of colitis induction with TNB or seven days before acetic acid treatment. Rats were killed at various time intervals after induction of colitis. A 10 cm distal colonic segment was isolated, weighed, lesion area measured, and explants organ cultured for 24 hours for determination of NO generation by the Greiss reaction. The rest of the mucosa was scraped for determination of myeloperoxidase and NOS activities and leukotriene generation. In TNB treated rats mean arterial pressure was also determined up to 72 hours after damage induction, with or without cotreatment with nitroprusside. L-NAME significantly decreased the extent of tissue injury in TNB treated rats. Seven days after TNB treatment lesion area was reduced by 55%, colonic weight by 37%, and myeloperoxidase and NOS activity by 59% and 42%, respectively. Acetic acid induced colitis in capsaicin pretreated rats was also significantly decreased by L-NAME. Twenty four hours after acetic acid treatment lesion area was reduced by 61%, colonic weight by 21% and NOS activity by 39%. Mean (SEM) arterial blood pressure in TNB+L-NAME treated rats was 37.6 (8.1) mm Hg higher than in TNB treated rats, an effect that was only partially abolished by nitroprusside. These results show that inhibition of NO synthesis by an L-arginine analogue significantly ameliorates the extent of tissue injury in two models of experimental colitis, an effect that is not due only to its vasoconstrictor properties. Modulation of NO generation may be a novel therapeutic approach in inflammatory bowel disease.
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