The role of nitric oxide (NO) production on metallothionein (MT) regulation in the liver and the brain has been studied in mice by means of the administration of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors. Mice injected with either the arginine analog N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) or the heme binding compound 7-nitro indazole (7-NI) showed consistently increased liver MT-I mRNA and MT-I + II total protein levels, suggesting that NO is involved in the hepatic MT regulation. In agreement with the liver results, in situ hybridization analysis demonstrated a significant upregulation of the brain MT-I isoform in areas such as the cerebrum cortex, neuronal CA1-CA3 layers and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and Purkinje cell layer of the cerebellum, in 7-NI treated mice. The same trend was observed for the brain specific isoform, MT-III, but to a much lower extent. The effect of NOS inhibition was also evaluated in a MT-inducing condition, namely during immobilization stress. In both the liver and the brain, stress upregulated the MT-I isoform, and 7-NI significantly reduced or even blunted the MT-I response to stress, suggesting a mediating role of NO on MT-I regulation during stress. Stress also increased the MT-III mRNA levels in some brain areas, an effect blunted by the concomitant administration of 7-NI, which in some areas even decreased MT-III mRNA levels below the saline injected mice. Results in primary culture of neurons and astrocytes demonstrate significant effects of the NOS inhibitors in some experimental conditions. The present results suggest that NO may have some role on MT regulation in both the liver and the brain.
- 7-Nitro indazole
- Nitric oxide