Administration of tacrine (5 mg/kg ip), an anticholinesterase agent, in rats pretreated (24 h beforehand) with lithium chloride (LiCl; 12 mEq/kg ip) provides a useful experimental model to study limbic seizures and delayed hippocampal damage. Here we report Western blotting evidence demonstrating that in rat LiCl and tacrine enhance the expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), but not eNOS, enzyme protein in the hippocampus during the preconvulsive period and this triggers seizures and hippocampal damage. In fact, systemic administration of 7-nitro indazole (7-NI; 50 mg/kg given ip 30 min before tacrine), a selective inhibitor of nNOS, prevented the expression of motor and electrocortical (ECoG) seizures and abolished neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. A lower dose (5 mg/kg ip) of 7-NI was ineffective. In conclusion, the present data support a role for abnormal nNOS expression in the mechanism which triggers limbic seizures and delayed excitotoxic damage in the hippocampus of rat.
©2002 Elsevier Science (USA).