Role of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the macula densa

Y. Ren, J. L. Garvin, S. Ito, O. A. Carretero

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Background. There is evidence that macula densa nitric oxide (NO) inhibits tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF). However, TGF response is not altered in mice deficient in neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) (-/-). Furthermore, nNOS expression in the macula densa is inversely related to salt intake, yet micropuncture studies have shown that NOS inhibition potentiates TGF in rats on high sodium intake but not in rats on a low-salt diet. These inconsistencies may be due to confounding systemic factors, such as changes in circulating renin. To further clarify the role of macula densa nNOS in TGF response, independent of systemic factors, we tested the hypothesis that (1) TGF response is inversely related to sodium intake, and (2) during low sodium intake, NO produced by macula densa nNOS tonically controls the basal diameter of the afferent arteriole (Af-Art). Methods. Af-Arts and attached macula densas were simultaneously microperfused in vitro. TGF response was determined by measuring Af-Art diameter before and after increasing NaCl in the macula densa perfusate. TGF response was studied in wild-type (+/+) and nNOS knockout mice (-/-), as well as in juxtaglomerular apparatuses (JGAs) from rabbits red a low-, normal-, of high-NaCl diet. Results. TGF responses were similar in nNOS +/+ and -/- mice. However, in nNOS +/+ mice, 7-nitroindazole (7-NI) perfused into the macula densa significantly potentiated the TGF response (P = 0.001), while in nNOS -/- mice, this potentiation was absent. In rabbits on three different sodium diets, TGF responses were similar and were potentiated equally by 7-NI. However, in JGAs from rabbits on a low-NaCl diet, adding 7-NI to the macula densa while perfusing it with low-NaCl fluid caused Af-Art vasoconstriction, decreasing the diameter by 14% (from 21.7 ± 1.3 to 18.6 ± 1.5 μm; P < 0.001). This effect was not observed in JGAs from rabbits red a normal- (19.0 ± 0.5 vs. 19.3 ± 0.8 μm after 7-NI) of high-NaCl diet (18.6 ± 0.7 vs. 18.4 ± 0.7 μm). Conclusions. First, in this in vitro preparation, chronic changes in macula densa nNOS do not play a major role in the regulation of TGF. Compensatory mechanisms may develop during chronic alteration of nNOS that keep TGF relatively constant. Second, nNOS regulates TGF response acutely. Third, the results obtained in the +/+ and -/- mice also confirm that the effect of 7-NI is due to inhibition of macula densa nNOS. Finally, during low sodium intake (without induction of TGF), the regulation of basal Af-Art resistance by macula densa nNOS suggests that NO in the macula densa helps maintain renal clood flow during the high renin secretion caused by low sodium intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1676-1683
Number of pages8
JournalKidney international
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • 7-nitroindazole
  • Glomerular hemodynamics
  • Low sodium diet
  • Microperfusion
  • Tubuloglomerular feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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