Characteristics of nitric oxide synthase type I of rat cerebellar astrocytes

Maria Lourdes Arbonés, Joan Ribera, Luis Agulló, Maria Antonia Baltrons, Anna Casanovas, Valentina Riveros-Moreno, Agustina García

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39 Citations (Scopus)


We have previously reported that stimulation of astrocyte cultures by particular agonists and calcium ionophores induces cyclic GMP formation through activation of a constitutive nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and that astrocytes from cerebellum show the largest response. In the present work we have used rat cerebellar astrocyte-enriched primary cultures to identify and characterise the isoform of NOS expressed in these cells. The specific NOS activity in astrocyte homogenates, determined by conversion of [3H]arginine to [3H]citrulline, was ten times lower than in homogenates from cerebellar granule neurons. Upon centrifugation at 100,000g, the astroglial activity was recovered in the supernatant, whereas in neurons around 30% of the activity remained particulate. The cytosolic NOS activities of both astrocytes and granule neurons displayed the same K(m) for L-arginine, dependency of calcium, and sensitivity to NOS inhibitors. Expression of NOS-I in astrocyte cytosolic fractions was revealed by Western blot with a specific polyclonal antiserum against recombinant NOS-I. Double immunofluorescence labelling using anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and anti-NOS-I antibodies revealed that a minor population of the GFAP-positive cells, usually in clusters, presented a strong NOS-I immunostaining that was predominantly located around the nuclei and had a granular appearance, indicating association with the endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi system. Astrocytes of stellate morphology also showed immunoreactivity in the processes. Similar staining was observed with the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex using different anti-NOS-I antisera. With this method the majority of cells showed a weak NOS-I immunoreactivity around the nuclei and cytosol. A similar pattern was observed with the NADPH-diaphorase reaction. These results demonstrate that the NOS-I expressed in astrocytes presents the same biochemical characteristics as the predominant neuronal isoform but may differ in intracellular location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-232
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1996


  • Granule cells
  • Immunoreactivity
  • NADPH-diaphorase
  • NOS activity

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