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Neuroprotective role of nitric oxide inhalation and nitrite in a Neonatal Rat Model of Hypoxic-Ischemic Injury



There is evidence from various models of hypoxic-ischemic injury (HII) that nitric oxide (NO) is protective. We hypothesized that either inhaled NO (iNO) or nitrite would alleviate brain injury in neonatal HII via modulation of mitochondrial function.


We tested the effects of iNO and nitrite on the Rice-Vannucci model of HII in 7-day-old rats. Brain mitochondria were isolated for flow cytometry, aconitase activity, electron paramagnetic resonance, and Seahorse assays.


Pretreatment of pups with iNO decreased survival in the Rice-Vannucci model of HII, while iNO administered post-insult did not. MRI analysis demonstrated that pre-HII iNO at 40 ppm and post-HII iNO at 20 ppm decreased the brain lesion sizes from 6.3±1.3% to 1.0±0.4% and 1.8±0.8%, respectively. Intraperitoneal nitrite at 0.165 μg/g improved neurobehavioral performance but was harmful at higher doses and had no effect on brain infarct size. NO reacted with complex IV at the heme a3 site, decreased the oxidative stress of mitochondria challenged with anoxia and reoxygenation, and suppressed mitochondrial oxygen respiration.


This study suggests that iNO administered following neonatal HII may be neuroprotective, possibly via its modulation of mitochondrial function.

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