Generation of nitric oxide and its protective and toxic actions in the gastrointestinal tract

  • Clare R. Byrne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Nitric oxide is a free-radical gas which can exert both protective and damaging effects. The objectives of the thesis were: (i) to investigate arginine metabolism in isolated rat gastric mucosal cells, (ii) to investigate the role of NO in the induction of ornithine decarboxylase in the rat gastric mucosa damaged by hypertonic saline in vivo, (iii) to expose primary cultures of guinea-pig gastric mucosal cells to oxidative challenge and an NO donor, and to investigate the response in terms of heat shock protein 72 (HSP 72) induction, and (iv) to investigate the induction of iNOS and the role of potential modulators of activity in gastric cell lines. Isolated rat gastric mucosal cells converted exogenous arginine to ornithine and citrulline. This metabolism of arginine was not affected by a range of NO synthase inhibitors, but was reduced by the arginase inhibitors NG-hydroxy-L-arginine and L-ornithine. Thus, the predominant pathway of arginine metabolism involves arginase and ornithine transcarbamoylase, not NO synthase.
Pretreatment of rats with NG-nitro-L-arginine promoted activation of ornithine decarboxylase after intragastric hypertonic saline, but did not increase acid phosphatase release (damage). NO may therefore restrict activation of ornithine decarboxylase in response to damage.
Exposure of primary cultures of guinea-pig gastric mucosal cells to S-nitroso-N-acetyl-penicillamine (SNAP) caused a concentration dependent induction of HSP 72, which was inhibited by an NO scavenger and blockade of transcription. The effect of SNAP was enhanced by decreasing the intracellular reduced thiol content with diethyl maleate, which itself also induced HSP 72 formation. Substantial amounts of NO may induce defensive responses in cells.
Induction of iNOS was not detected in HGT-1 or AGS cells exposed to cytokines. Conclusions
An arginase pathway may restrict availability of arginine for NO synthase in gastric mucosa or may be present to supply ornithine for polyamine synthesis. NO may modulate the response to damage of the stomach epithelium in vivo. Exogenous NO may induce a defensive response in gastric mucosal cells.
Date of AwardMay 1998
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter J Hanson (Supervisor)


  • gastric mucosa
  • arginase
  • hypertonic saline
  • ornithine dacarboxylase
  • heat-shock protein
  • nitric oxide synthase

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