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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Glucocorticoids regulate inducible nitric oxide synthase by inhibiting tetrahydrobiopterin synthesis and L-arginine transport.

The cytokine-inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS or NOS2) plays an important role in the immune response to some pathogens. Within the heart, increased activity of NOS2 in cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (CMEC) also can diminish the contractile function of adjacent cardiac myocytes. Glucocorticoids, which are known to suppress cytokine induction of NOS2 in many cell types, caused only a moderate (approximately 20%) decline in NOS2 protein content and maximal activity measured in homogenates of cytokine-treated CMEC, but almost completely inhibited synthesis of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by intact cells. To determine whether glucocorticoids were inhibiting cellular NOx production by limiting the availability of NOS co-factors or substrate, the effect of dexamethasone on tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and L-arginine availability in cytokine-treated CMEC was examined. Dexamethasone prevented the coordinate induction of GTP cyclohydrolase I with NOS2 after exposure to interleukin-1beta and interferon-gamma and also the increase in intracellular BH4 content in cytokine-treated CMEC. Addition of BH4 overcame dexamethasone-mediated suppression of nitrite production. Dexamethasone also prevented a cytokine-mediated increase in L-arginine uptake into CMEC by suppressing the induction of the high affinity cationic amino acid transporters CAT-1 and CAT-2B and the low affinity CAT-2A transporter. In addition, dexamethasone also inhibited cytokine induction in CMEC of argininosuccinate synthase, the rate-limiting enzyme for the de novo synthesis of arginine from citrulline. Thus, glucocorticoids regulate NOx production following cytokine exposure in cardiac microvascular endothelial cells primarily by limiting BH4 and L-arginine availability.[1]


  1. Glucocorticoids regulate inducible nitric oxide synthase by inhibiting tetrahydrobiopterin synthesis and L-arginine transport. Simmons, W.W., Ungureanu-Longrois, D., Smith, G.K., Smith, T.W., Kelly, R.A. J. Biol. Chem. (1996) [Pubmed]
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