Jing-xiang Wu, Hong-wei Zhu, Xu Chen, Jiong-lin Wei, Xiao-feng Zhang, Mei-ying Xu
Background: Ischemia–reperfusion injury (IRI) after lung transplantation remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Lung IRI induces nitric oxide synthesis (iNOS) and reactive nitrogen species, decreasing nitric oxide bioavailability. We hypothesized that ischemia-induced iNOS intensifies with reperfusion and contributes to IRI-induced pulmonary arterial regulatory dysfunction, which may lead to early graft failure and cause pulmonary edema. The aim of this study was to determine whether ischemia–reperfusion alters inducible and endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, potentially affecting pulmonary perfusion. We further evaluated the role of iNOS in post-transplantation pulmonary arterial disorder.
Methods: We randomized 32 Sprague–Dawley rats into two groups. The control group was given a sham operation whilst the experimental group received orthotropic lung transplants with a modified three-cuff technique. Changes in lung iNOS, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression were measured after lung transplantation by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Vasoconstriction in response to exogenous phenylephrine and vasodilation in response to exogenous acetylcholine of pulmonary arterial rings were measured in vitro as a measure of vascular dysfunction. To elucidate the roles of iNOS in regulating vascular function, an iNOS activity inhibitor (N6-(1-iminoethyl)-L-lysine, L-NIL) was used to treat isolated arterial rings. In order to test whether iNOS inhibition has a therapeutic effect, we further used L-NIL to pre-treat transplanted lungs and then measured post-transplantation arterial responses.
Results: Lung transplantation caused upregulation of iNOS expression. This was also accompanied by suppression of both vasoconstriction and vasodilation of arterial rings from transplanted lungs. Removal of endothelium did not interfere with the contraction of pulmonary arterial rings from transplanted lungs. In contrast, iNOS inhibition rescued the vasoconstriction response to exogenous phenylephrine of pulmonary arterial rings from transplanted lungs. In addition, lung transplantation led to suppression of PaO2/FiO2 ratio, increased intrapulmonary shunt (Q s/Q t), and increase of lung wet to dry ratio (W/D), malondialdehyde and myeloperoxidase levels, all of which were reversed upon iNOS inhibition. Furthermore, inhibition of iNOS significantly rescued vascular function and alleviated edema and inflammatory cell infiltration in the transplanted lung.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that lung transplantation causes upregulation of iNOS expression, and pulmonary vascular dysfunction. iNOS inhibition reverses the post-transplantational pulmonary vascular dysfunction.