Role of nitric oxide in the elevation of cerebral blood flow induced by acetylcholine and anoxia in the turtle

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1996 Mar;16(2):290-5. doi: 10.1097/00004647-199603000-00014.


Nitric oxide (NO)-dependent regulation of brain blood flow has hitherto not been studied in reptiles. By observing the brain surface (telencephalon) of the freshwater turtle (Trachemys scripta) with epiillumination microscopy, we show that topical application of acetylcholine (ACh) induces an increase in CBF velocity that can be completely blocked by the NO synthase inhibitor N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME). The effect of L-NAME was reversed by L-arginine. Also, sodium nitroprusside (SNP), which decomposes to liberate NO, caused an increase in CBF velocity. By contrast, L-NAME could not block the increase in blood flow velocity caused by anoxia. Interestingly, superfusing the brain with ACh or SNP during anoxia had no effect on the blood flow velocity. The results suggest that NO is an endogenous vasodilator in the turtle brain, mediating the effects of ACh during normoxia. By contrast, anoxia does not rely on NO as a vasodilator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hypoxia
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Turtles / physiology*
  • Vasodilation


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Nitroprusside
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Acetylcholine
  • Oxygen
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester