Arginase strongly impairs neuronal nitric oxide-mediated airway smooth muscle relaxation in allergic asthma

H Maarsingh*, J Leusink, I Sophie T Bos, J Zaagsma, H Meurs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Using guinea pig tracheal preparations, we have recently shown that endogenous arginase activity attenuates inhibitory nonadrenergic noncholinergic (iNANC) nerve-mediated airway smooth muscle relaxation by reducing nitric oxide (NO) production - due to competition with neuronal NO-synthase (nNOS) for the common substrate, L-arginine. Furthermore, in a guinea pig model of allergic asthma, airway arginase activity is markedly increased after the early asthmatic reaction (EAR), leading to deficiency of agonist-induced, epithelium-derived NO and subsequent airway hyperreactivity. In this study, we investigated whether increased arginase activity after the EAR affects iNANC nerve-derived NO production and airway smooth muscle relaxation.

Methods: Electrical field stimulation (EFS; 150 mA, 4 ms, 4 s, 0.5 - 16 Hz)-induced relaxation was measured in tracheal open-ring preparations precontracted to 30% with histamine in the presence of 1 mu M atropine and 3 mu M indomethacin. The contribution of NO to EFS-induced relaxation was assessed by the nonselective NOS inhibitor N-omega-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA, 100 mu M), while the involvement of arginase activity in the regulation of EFS-induced NO production and relaxation was investigated by the effect of the specific arginase inhibitor N-omega-hydroxy-nor-L-arginine (nor-NOHA, 10 mu M). Furthermore, the role of substrate availability to nNOS was measured in the presence of exogenous L-arginine (5.0 mM).

Results: At 6 h after ovalbumin-challenge (after the EAR), EFS-induced relaxation (ranging from 3.2 +/- 1.1% at 0.5 Hz to 58.5 +/- 2.2% at 16 Hz) was significantly decreased compared to unchallenged controls (7.1 +/- 0.8% to 75.8 +/- 0.7%; P <0.05 all). In contrast to unchallenged controls, the NOS inhibitor L-NNA did not affect EFS-induced relaxation after allergen challenge, indicating that NO deficiency underlies the impaired relaxation. Remarkably, the specific arginase inhibitor nor-NOHA normalized the impaired relaxation to unchallenged control (P <0.05 all), which effect was inhibited by L-NNA (P <0.01 all). Moreover, the effect of nor-NOHA was mimicked by exogenous L-arginine.

Conclusion: The results clearly demonstrate that increased arginase activity after the allergen-induced EAR contributes to a deficiency of iNANC nerve-derived NO and decreased airway smooth muscle relaxation, presumably via increased substrate competition with nNOS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory Research
Publication statusPublished - 12-Jan-2006



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