Nitric oxide synthase and intermittent hypoxia-induced spatial learning deficits in the rat

Neurobiol Dis. 2004 Oct;17(1):44-53. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2004.05.006.


Intermittent hypoxia (IH) during sleep induces significant neurobehavioral deficits in the rat. Since nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in ischemia-reperfusion-related pathophysiological consequences, the temporal effects of IH (alternating 21% and 10% O(2) every 90 s) and sustained hypoxia (SH; 10% O(2)) during sleep for up to 14 days on the induction of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms in the brain were examined in the cortex of Sprague-Dawley rats. No significant changes of endothelial NOS (eNOS) and neuronal NOS (nNOS) occurred over time with either IH or SH. Similarly, inducible NOS (iNOS) was not affected by SH. However, increased expression and activity of iNOS were observed on days 1 and 3 of IH (P < 0.01 vs. control; n = 12/group) and were followed by a return to basal levels on days 7 and 14. Furthermore, IH-mediated neurobehavioral deficits in the water maze were significantly attenuated in iNOS knockout mice. We conclude that IH is associated with a time-dependent induction of iNOS and that the increased expression of iNOS may play a critical role in the early pathophysiological events leading to IH-mediated neurobehavioral deficits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / enzymology
  • Hypoxia, Brain / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / enzymology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / analysis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / deficiency
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse
  • Nos2 protein, rat