Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase does not alter dynamic cerebral autoregulation in humans

Rong Zhang, Thad E. Wilson, Sarah Witkowski, Jian Cui, Craig G. Crandall, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to determine whether inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) alters dynamic cerebral autoregulation in humans. Beat-to-beat blood pressure (BP) and cerebral blood flow (CBF) velocity (transcranial Doppler) were measured in eight healthy subjects in the supine position and during 60° head-up tilt (HUT). NOS was inhibited by intravenous N G-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) infusion. Dynamic cerebral autoregulation was quantified by transfer function analysis of beat-to-beat changes in BP and CBF velocity. Pressor effects of L-NMMA on cerebral hemodynamics were compared with those of phenylephrine infusion. In the supine position, L-NMMA increased mean BP from 83 ± 3 to 94 ± 3 mmHg (P < 0.01). However, CBF velocity remained unchanged. Consequently, cerebrovascular resistance index (CVRI) increased by 15% (P < 0.05). BP and CBF velocity variability and transfer function gain at the low frequencies of 0.07-0.20 Hz did not change with L-NMMA infusion. Similar changes in mean BP, CBF velocity, and CVRI were observed after phenylephrine infusion, suggesting that increase in CVRI after L-NMMA was mediated myogenically by increase in arterial pressure rather than a direct effect of cerebrovascular NOS inhibition. During baseline tilt without L-NMMA, steady-state BP increased and CBF velocity decreased. BP and CBF velocity variability at low frequencies increased in parallel by 277% and 217%, respectively (P < 0.05). However, transfer function gain remained unchanged. During tilt with L-NMMA, changes in steady-state hemodynamics and BP and CBF velocity variability as well as transfer gain and phase were similar to those without L-NMMA. These data suggest that inhibition of tonic production of NO does not appear to alter dynamic cerebral autoregulation in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H863-H869
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3 55-3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Head-up tilt
  • Transcranial Doppler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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