Role of nitric oxide as a mediator of internal anal sphincter relaxation

Am J Physiol. 1992 Jan;262(1 Pt 1):G107-12. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1992.262.1.G107.


The studies were performed in in vitro to examine the role of nitric oxide (NO) in nonadrenergic noncholinergic (NANC) nerve-mediated relaxation of the internal anal sphincter (IAS) smooth muscle strips of opossums. NO caused a concentration-dependent fall in the resting tension of the IAS. The inhibitory action of NO may be exerted directly on the IAS smooth muscle since it was not modified by the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (1 x 10(-6) M), which abolished the neurally mediated fall in the IAS tension. The inhibitor of NO synthesis NG-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA) produced concentration-dependent suppression of the neurally mediated fall in the IAS tension. The suppression of the neurally mediated IAS relaxation was stereoselective because D-NNA had no effect on the control responses. The suppressant action of L-NNA was selectively reversed by L-arginine in a concentration-dependent manner. The reversal was complete with 3 x 10(-4) M L-arginine. D-Arginine on the other hand, at the same concentration had no effect on L-NNA-suppressed IAS relaxation. Interestingly, the fall in the IAS tension caused by vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) (an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the IAS) was also inhibited by L-NNA (3 x 10(-5) M). From these data we conclude that NO or NO-like substances serve as important inhibitory mediators for the NANC nerve-mediated IAS relaxation. A part of the inhibitory action of VIP on the IAS involves NO-synthase pathway. The exact site of formation and release of NO or NO-like substances in response to NANC nerve stimulation remain to be investigated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology*
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology
  • Nitric Oxide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology*
  • Nitroarginine
  • Opossums
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / pharmacology


  • Nitroarginine
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • Arginine