Background. This study was designed to determine whether the nitric oxide (NO) pathway is involved in wound granulation tissue formation. Methods. A section of the pig abdominal wall (excluding the skin) was excised, creating an incisional hernia. The resulting defect was repaired with silicone sheeting in a manner that mimics a temporary abdominal wall closure. During the 14-day experimental period, porcine omentum adhered to the peritoneal edges of the defect and a highly vascularized granulation tissue formed on both sides of the sheeting. Granulation tissue thickness and wound fluid volume were monitored by ultrasonography and epigastric artery flow velocity was monitored by color Doppler flow analysis at days 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, and 14. Fluid was serially harvested from the wound compartment at days 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, and 14 for nitrite/nitrate (NOx) analysis. Finally, granulation tissue was harvested at day 14 for immunohistochemical and molecular analyses. Results. There was a significant increase in granulation tissue thickness and wound fluid volume during the 14-day study period. Blood flow to the wound increased significantly by day 4 and returned toward baseline by day 14. Wound fluid NOx levels significantly increased from days 7 to 11 and then decreased to near baseline values by day 14. Wound fluid arginine levels significantly decreased when compared with peritoneal fluid and plasma levels at day 14, while wound fluid ornithine levels significantly increased. Immunohistochemical analysis of granulation tissue at day 14 revealed nitric oxide synthase (NOS) 2 was present in the majority of the cells in the granulation tissue. NOS 3 was expressed in endothelial cells only, and NOS 1 expression was not observed in the granulation tissue. Conclusions. This study suggests that NO, NOS 2, and arginine may play critical roles in granulation tissue formation and wound healing. Arginase and NOS 2 may compete for available arginine as a substrate, thereby limiting later NO production in favor of sustained ornithine synthesis.
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