Preserved hypocapnic pial arteriolar constriction during hyperammonemia by glutamine synthetase inhibition

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ammonia intoxication, which results in astrocytic edema and glutamine accumulation, blocks cerebral vasodilation during hypercapnia but not during hypoxia. Ammonia's effect on blood flow during hypocapnia is unclear, with some brain regions showing a paradoxical increase in flow. Here, we studied the responses to hypocapnia of pial arterioles not surrounded by astrocytic end feet to avoid mechanical compression by local edema. Blood flow was measured by microspheres in pentobarbital sodium-anesthetized rats equipped with closed cranial windows that permitted intravital microscopy. The normal pial arterial constriction in hypocapnia (12 ± 1%; mean ± SE) was blocked (2 ± 1%) during a 6-h intravenous infusion of ammonium acetate, with some regions (cerebrum, midbrain) showing increased flow during hypocapnia. After pretreatment with methionine sulfoximine (MSO), which inhibits glutamine synthesis, the normal hypocapnic constrictor response was retained in pial arterioles (11 ± 2%) during hyperammonemia. The increase in the calculated cerebrovascular resistance also was retained. An analog of MSO that does not block glutamine synthesis (buthionine sulfoximine) was ineffective in maintaining hypocapnic reactivity. In a sodium acetate-treated control group, MSO did not alter the pial arteriolar response. Normal vasoconstrictive ability was shown during ammonium infusion in response to U-46619, a thromboxane analog. We conclude that the inhibition of hypocapnic responsivity induced by ammonium is not due to paralysis of the pial arteriolar smooth muscle or to vascular compression by swollen astrocytes but is in some way due to glutamine metabolically produced from the ammonium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H456-H463
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 45-2
StatePublished - Feb 1999


  • Ammonia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Cerebral circulation
  • Glia
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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