Background: The immunosuppressor cyclosporine A (CsA) presents the nephrotoxicity as its major side effect that is mostly attributed to a renal vasoconstriction. This may be due to an excessive generation of vasoconstrictors like reactive oxygen species (ROS), or due to a reduction of vasodilators such as the nitric oxide, which in turn, can be caused by increased amounts of ROS. We evaluated the effect of CsA and the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA expression and nitric oxide synthesis, in rat renal artery vascular smooth muscle cells (rVSMCs) primary culture.
Methods: In cells treated during 72 hours with CsA (10 microg/mL), its vehicle (control) (10 microL/mL), Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (100 microg/mL), CsA + LPS, NAC (6.13 mmol/L), or CsA + NAC, we determined the nitric oxide synthesis (Griess and chemiluminescence methods), iNOS expression [reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)] and cell viability (acridine orange method).
Results: In rVSMCs, LPS increased nitric oxide and iNOS expression; CsA decreased basal and LPS-induced nitric oxide and iNOS expression; NAC increased nitric oxide and blunted the nitric oxide reduction caused by CsA, with no effect on iNOS. CsA reduced cell viability.
Conclusion: In this study, CsA reduced nitric oxide synthesis in rVSMCs, both through iNOS down-regulation and reduction of cell viability, which could be responsible for the vasoconstrictive effect of the CsA. In the effect of CsA on nitric oxide, probably a role is also played by free radical production, as this effect was blunted by NAC.