Mechanisms of nitric oxide synthase uncoupling in endotoxin-induced acute lung injury: role of asymmetric dimethylarginine

Vascul Pharmacol. 2010 May-Jun;52(5-6):182-90. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2009.11.010. Epub 2009 Dec 3.


Acute lung injury (ALI) is associated with severe alterations in lung structure and function and is characterized by hypoxemia, pulmonary edema, low lung compliance and widespread capillary leakage. Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), a known cardiovascular risk factor, has been linked to endothelial dysfunction and the pathogenesis of a number of cardiovascular diseases. However, the role of ADMA in the pathogenesis of ALI is less clear. ADMA is metabolized via hydrolytic degradation to l-citrulline and dimethylamine by the enzyme, dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH). Recent studies suggest that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) markedly increases the level of ADMA and decreases DDAH activity in endothelial cells. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine if alterations in the ADMA/DDAH pathway contribute to the development of ALI initiated by LPS-exposure in mice. Our data demonstrate that LPS exposure significantly increases ADMA levels and this correlates with a decrease in DDAH activity but not protein levels of either DDAH I or DDAH II isoforms. Further, we found that the increase in ADMA levels cause an early decrease in nitric oxide (NO(x)) and a significant increase in both NO synthase (NOS)-derived superoxide and total nitrated lung proteins. Finally, we found that decreasing peroxynitrite levels with either uric acid or Manganese (III) tetrakis (1-methyl-4-pyridyl) porphyrin (MnTymPyp) significantly attenuated the lung leak associated with LPS-exposure in mice suggesting a key role for protein nitration in the progression of ALI. In conclusion, this is the first study that suggests a role of the ADMA/DDAH pathway during the development of ALI in mice and that ADMA may be a novel therapeutic biomarker to ascertain the risk for development of ALI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / physiopathology*
  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*
  • Peroxynitrous Acid / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Peroxynitrous Acid
  • Nitric Oxide
  • N,N-dimethylarginine
  • Arginine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Amidohydrolases
  • dimethylargininase