Neuronal nitric oxide synthase is necessary for elimination of Giardia lamblia infections in mice

J Immunol. 2006 Jan 1;176(1):516-21. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.176.1.516.


NO produced by inducible NO synthase (NOS2) is important for the control of numerous infections. In vitro, NO inhibits replication and differentiation of the intestinal protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia. However, the role of NO against this parasite has not been tested in vivo. IL-6-deficient mice fail to control Giardia infections, and these mice have reduced levels of NOS2 mRNA in the small intestine after infection compared with wild-type mice. However, NOS2 gene-targeted mice and wild-type mice treated with the NOS2 inhibitor N-iminoethyl-L-lysine eliminated parasites as well as control mice. In contrast, neuronal NOS (NOS1)-deficient mice and wild-type mice treated with the nonspecific NOS inhibitor NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester and the NOS1-specific inhibitor 7-nitroindazole all had delayed parasite clearance. Finally, Giardia infection increased gastrointestinal motility in wild-type mice, but not in SCID mice. Furthermore, treatment of wild-type mice with NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester or loperamide prevented both the increased motility and the elimination of parasites. Together, these data show that NOS1, but not NOS2, is necessary for clearance of Giardia infection. They also suggest that increased gastrointestinal motility contributes to elimination of the parasite and may also contribute to parasite-induced diarrhea. Importantly, this is the first example of NOS1 being involved in the elimination of an infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diarrhea / parasitology
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / immunology
  • Giardia lamblia / immunology
  • Giardiasis / complications
  • Giardiasis / enzymology
  • Giardiasis / immunology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-6 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, SCID
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / drug effects
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / immunology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I