Nitric oxide (NO) has been demonstrated to be the primary agent in relaxing airways in humans and animals. We investigated the mechanisms involved in the relaxation induced by NO-donors, ruthenium complex [Ru(terpy)(bdq)NO(+)](3+) (TERPY) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) in isolated trachea of rats contracted with carbachol in an isolated organs chamber. For instance, we verified the contribution of K(+) channels, the importance of sGC/cGMP pathway, the influence of the extra and intracellular Ca(2+) sources and the contribution of the epithelium on the relaxing response. Additionally, we have used confocal microscopy in order to analyze the action of the NO-donors on cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration. The results demonstrated that both compounds led to the relaxation of trachea in a dependent-concentration way. However, the maximum effect (E(max)) of TERPY is higher than the SNP. The relaxation induced by SNP (but not TERPY) was significantly reduced by pretreatment with ODQ (sGC inhibitor). Only TERPY-induced relaxation was reduced by tetraethylammonium (K(+) channels blocker) and by pre-contraction with 75mM KCl (membrane depolarization). The response to both NO-donors was not altered by the presence of thapsigargin (sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase inhibitor). The epithelium removal has reduced the relaxation only to SNP, and it has no effect on TERPY. The both NO-donors reduced the contraction evoked by Ca(2+) influx, while TERPY have shown a higher inhibitory effect on contraction. Moreover, the TERPY was more effective than SNP in reducing the cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration measured by confocal microscopy. In conclusion, these results show that TERPY induces airway smooth muscle relaxation by cGMP-independent mechanisms, it involves the fluxes of Ca(2+) and K(+) across the membrane, it is more effective in reducing cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration and inducing relaxation in the rat trachea than the standard drug, SNP.
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