Production of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite in the lung during acute endotoxemia

T. M. Wizemann, C. R. Gardner, J. D. Laskin, S. Quinones, S. K. Durham, N. L. Goller, S. T. Ohnoshi, D. L. Laskin

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232 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide is a short-lived cytotoxic mediator that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of endotoxin-induced tissue injury and septic shock. In the present studies we determined whether this mediator is produced in the lung during acute endotoxemia. We found that intravenous injection of rats with bacterially derived lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a condition that induces acute endotoxemia, caused a time-dependent increase in inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA expression in the lung, which reached a maximum after 24 h. This was correlated with nitric oxide production in the lung as measured by electron paramagnetic spin trapping, which was detectable within 6 h. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) and interstitial macrophages (IMs) isolated from rats 6-12 h after induction of acute endotoxemia were also found to exhibit increased nitric oxide production in response to in vitro stimulation with interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and LPS measured by nitrite accumulation in the culture medium. The effects of acute endotoxemia on nitric oxide production by these cells were, however, transient and returned to control levels by 24 h in AMs and 36 h in IMs. Interestingly, although nitrite accumulation in the culture medium of IMs isolated 48 h after induction of acute endotoxemia and stimulated with low concentrations of IFN-γ and LPS was reduced, when compared with cells from control animals, these cells, as well as AMs, continued to express high levels of iNOS protein and mRNA. This was correlated with increased peroxynitrite production by the cells. Peroxynitrite has been shown to act as a nitrating agent and can generate nitrotyrosine residues in proteins. Using a specific antibody and immunohistochemistry, we found evidence of nitrotyrosine residues in sections of lungs 48 h after treatment of rats with endotoxin. These data suggest that nitric oxide produced by IMs and AMs can react with superoxide anion to form peroxynitrite. Taken together, the present studies demonstrate that AMs and IMs are activated following acute endotoxemia to produce reactive nitrogen intermediates and that both cell types contribute to inflammatory responses in the lung.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-768
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


  • Alveolar macrophages
  • GM-CSF
  • Interstitial macrophages
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • TNF-α


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