Nicotine attenuates arachidonic acid-induced overexpression of nitric oxide synthase in cultured spinal cord neurons

Michal Toborek, Rosario Garrido, Andrzej Malecki, Simone Kaiser, Mark P. Mattson, Bernhard Hennig, Byron Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Primary spinal cord trauma can initiate a cascade of pathophysiologic events which markedly contribute to the expansion and amplification of the primary insult. The detailed mechanisms of these secondary neurochemical reactions are largely unknown; however, they involve membrane lipid derangements with the release of free fatty acids, in particular, arachidonic acid (AA). AA can induce several injury effects on spinal cord neurons. We hypothesize that upregulation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is among the most important mechanisms of arachidonic-acid-induced neuronal dysfunction and that nicotine can attenuate this effect. To study these hypotheses, spinal cord neurons were exposed to AA and/or nicotine, and several markers of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) metabolism were measured. In addition, cotreatments with either inhibitors of nicotinic receptors or inhibitors of specific NOS isoforms were employed. Treatment with AA markedly increased activity of nNOS, as well as mRNA and protein levels of this enzyme. Changes in nNOS expression were accompanied by an increase in cellular cGMP and medium nitrite levels. Pretreatment with nicotine decreased AA-induced overexpression of nNOS and elevation of nitrite levels. In addition, it appeared that these nicotine effects could be partially modulated both by the α7 nicotinic receptors or by nonreceptor mechanisms. Alternatively, the observed changes could also be mediated by an alternate nicotinic receptor mechanism which is not blocked by α-bungarotoxin or mecamylamine. Results of the present study indicate that exposure to AA can lead to induction of nNOS in cultured spinal cord neurons. In addition, nicotine can exert a neuroprotective effect by attenuation of AA-induced upregulation of nNOS metabolism. These data may have therapeutic implications for the treatment of acute spinal cord trauma. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by THRI and KSCHIRT.


  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic receptors
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Spinal cord neurons
  • Spinal cord trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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