Ischemic preconditioning upregulates inducible nitric oxide synthase in cardiac myocytes

Yang Wang, Yiru Guo, Shelley X. Zhang, Wen Jian Wu, Jianxun Wang, Weike Bao, Roberto Bolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Recent evidence has shown that the cardioprotection afforded by the late phase of ischemic preconditioning (PC) is mediated by upregulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). However, the specific cardiac cell type(s) that express(es) iNOS in response to ischemic PC remains unknown. Thus, mice underwent a sequence of six cycles of 4-min coronary occlusion/4-min reperfusion, which induces late PC, and tissue samples were collected at serial times for measurement of mRNA (Northern) and protein levels (Western). In addition, whole heart samples were cryosectioned for in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. The steady-state levels of iNOS mRNA in the ischemic regions started to increase at 1 h after ischemic PC, peaked at 3 h (201 ± 31% of sham, n=5: P<O.01) and remained elevated at 24 h (1774±22% of sham, n=5: P<0.01). In accordance with these data, iNOS protein expression was increased at 24 h (219±41% of sham, n= 5: P<0.01). In contrast, neither endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) mRNA levels nor its protein expression changed at any time-point. The magnitude of iNOS upregulation after ischemic PC was mild compared with that noted 66 h after permanent coronary occlusion (360±53% of sham) or 8 h after endotoxin (3117±61% of control). After ischemic PC, diffuse iNOS signals were detected with in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry in the cytoplasmic space of cardiac myocytes and, to a lesser degree, in the wall of large vessels, but were absent in smooth muscle and endothelium of small vessels and in fibroblasts. This pattern contrasted with that observed in mouse hearts subjected to permanent coronary occlusion where strong iNOS signals were concentrated in inflammatory cells but absent in cardiac myocytes. Thus, not only the degree of iNOS expression but also its cellular distribution were profoundly different in reversibly injured (preconditioned) v infarcted myocardium. We conclude that iNOS is rapidly upregulated after ischemic PC and that cardiac myocytes are the main source of ischemic PC-induced iNOS expression. This study demonstrates, for the first time, a differential pattern of iNOS expression in sublethal (PC) v lethal ischemia, which may have important implication for the role of iNOS in these two settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene expression
  • Infarction
  • Ischemia
  • Mouse
  • Myocardium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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