iNOS-mediated secondary inflammatory response differs between rat strains following experimental brain contusion

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2012 Apr;154(4):689-97. doi: 10.1007/s00701-012-1297-1. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Background: Nitric oxide is a key mediator of post-traumatic inflammation in the brain. We examined the expressions of iNOS, nNOS, and eNOS in inbred DA and PVGa rat strains where DA is susceptible to autoimmune neuroinflammation and PVGa-resistant.

Methods: Parietal contusions using a weight drop model were produced in five rats per genotype. After 24 h, the brains were removed and analyzed using a range of immunohistochemical methods.

Results: PVGa presented significantly increased iNOS expression in infiltrating inflammatory cells in the perilesional area compared to DA (p < 0.05). The amount of w3/13-positive infiltrating inflammatory cells did not differ between strains. eNOS and nNOS expression did not differ between strains. iNOS-positive cells coexpressed neuronal (NeuN), macrophage (ED-1), and leucocyte (w3/13) markers. MnSOD was significantly increased in PVGa (p < 0.05). 3-Nitrotyrosine, a measure of peroxynitrite levels, and fluoro-jade stained neuronal degeneration, did not differ between strains.

Conclusions: Two inbred rat strains with genetically determined differences in susceptibility to develop autoimmune disease displayed different levels of the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators iNOS and MnSOD, indicating genetic regulation. Interestingly, the increased levels of iNOS did not lead to elevated expression of the neuronal cell-death marker fluoro-jade. The increased iNOS expression was correlated with increased expression of superoxide scavenger MnSOD. Excessive peroxynitrite formation was probably prevented by limitation of available superoxide. Subsequently, the higher expression of potentially deleterious iNOS in PVGa did not result in increased neuronal death.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / enzymology*
  • Brain Injuries / genetics
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Inflammation / enzymology*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / genetics
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Species Specificity


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, rat