We hypothesized that nitric oxide (NO) production by the fetal ductus arteriosus is limited because of low fetal Po2, but that at neonatal Po2, NO might be an important regulator of ductus arteriosus tone. We exposed isolated rings of fetal lamb ductus arteriosus to elevated Po2. t.-N-nitro- L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and methylene blue and 6-anilino-5,8-quinolinedione (LY83583), inhibitors of guanylate cyclase, produced constriction of the ductus arteriosus. When ductus arteriosus rings were exposed to low Po2, L-NAME had no effect, and methylene blue and LY83583 had only a small effect on ductus arteriosus tone. Sodium nitroprusside and calcium ionophore A23187 relaxed ductus arteriosus rings more than aortic rings, and relaxed ductus arteriosus rings from immature fetuses more than those from late gestation fetuses. In contrast, ductus arteriosus rings from both early and late gestation were equally sensitive to 8-bromo-cGMP. By both reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry, endothelial cell NOS and inducible calcium-independent NOS, but not nerve cell NOS, were detected in the ductus arteriosus. Inducible NOS was expressed only by endothelial cells lining the ductus arteriosus lumen; in contrast, endothelial cell NOS was expressed by both luminal and vasa vasorum endothelial cells. The role of inducible NOS in the ductus arteriosus is uncertain because the potency of a specific inducible NOS inhibitor in constricting the ductus arteriosus was negligible compared with that of an endothelial cell NOS inhibitor. We speculate that NO may be an important regulator of ductus arteriosus tone at high but not low Po2. The endothelial cell NOS isoform found in vasa vasorum may be an important source of NO because removal of ductus arteriosus luminal endothelium only partially blocks the effects of L-NAME, methylene blue, and LY83583.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health