Glutamine-dependent inhibition of pial arteriolar dilation to acetylcholine with and without hyperammonemia in the rat

Tetsu Kawaguchi, Saul W. Brusilow, Richard J. Traystman, Raymond C. Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Glutamine has been shown to influence endothelial-dependent relaxation and nitric oxide production in vitro, possibly by limiting arginine availability, but its effects in vivo have not been well studied. Hyperammonemia is a pathophysiological condition in which glutamine is elevated and contributes to depressed CO2 reactivity of cerebral arterioles. We tested the hypothesis that acute hyperammonemia decreases pial arteriolar dilation to acetylcholine in vivo and that this decrease could be prevented by inhibiting glutamine synthetase with L-methionine-S-sulfoximine (MSO) or by intravenous infusion of L-arginine. Pial arteriolar diameter responses to topical superfusion of acetylcholine were measured in anesthetized rats before and at 6 h of infusion of either sodium or ammonium acetate. Ammonium acetate infusion increased plasma ammonia concentration from ∼30 to ∼600 μM and increased cerebral glutamine concentration fourfold. Arteriolar dilation to acetylcholine was intact after infusion of sodium acetate in groups pretreated with vehicle or with MSO plus methionine, which was coadministered to prevent MSO-induced seizures. In contrast, dilation in response to acetylcholine was completely blocked in hyperammonemic groups pretreated with vehicle or methionine alone. However, MSO plus methionine administration before hyperammonemia, which maintained cerebral glutamine concentration at control values, preserved acetylcholine dilation. Intravenous infusion of L-arginine during the last 2 h of the ammonium acetate infusion partially restored dilation to acetylcholine without reducing cerebral glutamine accumulation. Superfusion of 1 or 2 mM L-glutamine through the cranial window for 1 h in the absence of hyperammonemia attenuated acetylcholine dilation but had no effect on endothelial-independent dilation to nitroprusside. We conclude that 1) hyperammonemia reduces acetylcholine-evoked dilation in cerebral arterioles, 2) this reduction depends on increased glutamine rather than ammonium ions, and 3) increasing arginine partially overcomes the inhibitory effect of glutamine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1612-R1619
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 57-6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Arginine
  • Cerebral circulation
  • Endothelial-dependent dilation
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Hyperammonemia
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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