Expression of nitric oxide synthase in the human nasal mucosa

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Feb;153(2):847-50. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.153.2.8564142.


The nasal mucosa plays an important role in defense of the lung against harmful agents. It has been suggested that this is partly mediated by the production of nitric oxide (NO). We have investigated the localization of the messenger ribonucleic acids (MRNAs) for human endothelial NO synthase (Type III NOS) and inducible NO synthase (Type II NOS) and the immunoreactivities of these enzymes in human nasal mucosa by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and reduced nicotinamide adenine diphosphate (NADPH) diaphorase histochemistry. Inferior nasal turbinates were obtained from 27 patients at the time of surgery for local disease. Strong immunostaining for Type III NOS was localized to vascular endothelium, surface epithelium, and submucosal glands in all subjects. Moderate immunostaining for Type II NOS was seen in surface epithelium; glandular, inflammatory, and vascular endothelial cells; and smooth-muscle cells in the specimens from patients with chronic rhinitis only. In situ hybridization showed expression of the mRNA for Type III NOS in similar sites to those shown by immunohistochemistry, whereas the mRNA for Type II NOS was predominantly localized to inflammatory cells. The sites of NOS expression were further confirmed by NADPH histochemical staining. These findings demonstrate the cellular expression of NOS in the human nasal mucosa and suggest a possible role for Types II and III NO synthase in the regulation of blood flow, nasal secretion, and ciliary movement in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • NADP / analysis
  • Nasal Mucosa / enzymology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / analysis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rhinitis / enzymology
  • Rhinitis / pathology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • NADP
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase