Objective: Nitric oxide (NO) and oxygen free radicals are implicated in the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Peroxynitrite formation from NO and superoxide contributes to secondary neuronal injury but the neuroprotective effects of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-inhibitors have been contradictory. This study was undertaken to examine whether PTtic administration of the (NOS)-inhibitor N-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), and a combination of L-NAME and the nitrone radical scavenger 2-sulfo-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone (S-PBN) favorable affects neuronal injury in a model of TBI.
Methods: A weight-drop model of TBI was used. The animals received L-NAME, S-PBN or a combination of the drugs 15 minutes prothrombin time (PT) and sacrificed after 24 hours or six days. NOS activity was measured by the conversion of L-[U-C]arginine to L-[U-C]citrulline. Peroxynitrite formation, cellular apoptosis, neuronal degeneration and survival were assessed by nitrotyrosine-, TUNEL-, Fluoro-Jade- and NeuN-stainings.
Results: eNOS and nNOS activity was significantly reduced in animals that received L-NAME alone or the combination with S-PBN. iNOS activity or iNOS immunoreactivity was not affected. All treatments significantly reduced neuronal degeneration and nitrotyrosine immunoreactivity at 24 hours and increased neuronal survival at six days PT. No differences were detected between L-NAME and L-NAME + S-PBN groups.
Conclusion: NO from NOS contributes to secondary neuronal injury in this TBI-model. PTtic treatment does not inhibit early beneficial NO-related effects. L-NAME and S-PBN limit peroxynitrite formation, promoting neuronal survival. The combination of L-NAME and S-PBN was neuroprotective; surprisingly no additive effects were found on nitrotyrosine formation, apoptosis or neuronal survival.