Involvement of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase in Cerebral Microcirculation and Oxygenation in Traumatic Brain Injury

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2022:1395:3-7. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-14190-4_1.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to cerebral microvascular dysfunction and cerebral ischemia. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is a key regulator of vascular homeostasis. We aimed to assess the role of eNOS in cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes after TBI. Moderate TBI was induced in eNOS knockout (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice (8 per group). Cerebral microvascular tone, microvascular CBF (mCBF) and tissue oxygenation (NADH) were measured by two-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM) before and 1 h, 1 day and 3 days after TBI. Cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) was evaluated by the hypercapnia test. Laser Doppler cortical flux (cLDF) was simultaneously measured in the perilesional area. One hr after TBI, cLDF was 59.4 ± 8.2% and 60.3 ± 9.1% from the baseline (p < 0.05) in WT and eNOS KO, respectively. 2PLSM showed decreased arteriolar diameter, the number of functioning capillaries, mCBF and tissue oxygenation (p < 0.05). At 1 day, cLDF increased to 65.2 ± 6.4% in the WT group, while it decreased to 56.1 ± 7.2% in the eNOS KO mice. 2PLSM revealed a further decrease in the number of functioning capillaries, mCBF, and oxygen supply which was slightly milder in WT mice (p < 0.05 from the baseline). On the third day after TBI, cLDF increased to 72 ± 5.2% in the WT, while it stayed the same in the eNOS KO group (55.9 ± 6.4%, p < 0.05 from the WT). 2PLSM showed reduction in arterioles with vasospasm, increase in the number of functioning capillaries, and improvement in mCBF and tissue oxygen supply in WT, while no significant changes were observed in eNOS KO (p < 0.05). CVR was impaired in both groups 1 h after TBI, and improved by the third day in the WT, while staying impaired in eNOS KO. In the subacute TBI period, the significance of eNOS in maintaining cerebral microcirculation and oxygen supply increases with time after the injury.

Keywords: CBF; Cerebral blood flow; NADH fluorescence; Vasoreactivity; eNOS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microcirculation
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III* / genetics
  • Oxygen


  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Oxygen
  • Nitric Oxide