In this study, we compare the biological effects, Fos expression and cardiovascular responses induced in the rat, of different nitric oxide modulators (nitroglycerin, sodium nitroprusside and l-arginine). Nitroglycerin and sodium nitroprusside induced a similar pattern of neuronal activation in several areas, which include the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus, central nucleus of the amygdala, parabrachial nucleus, locus coeruleus, ventrolateral medulla and nucleus tractus solitarius. However, only nitroglycerin activated the periaqueductal grey and nucleus trigeminalis caudalis. l-Arginine-induced neuronal activation was restricted to the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus. As regards cardiovascular effect, both nitroglycerin and sodium nitroprusside induced moderate hypotension (nitroglycerin: -23.3%, sodium nitroprusside: -24.3%) that lasted 40 min in the case of sodium nitroprusside and 80 min in the case of nitroglycerin. l-Arginine did not significantly influence blood pressure. These data suggest that nitroglycerin, sodium nitroprusside and l-arginine are associated with different biological effects on both the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Of the NO-related drugs tested in this study, only nitroglycerin confirmed its ability to activate brainstem areas implicated in nociception.
- Nitric oxide
- Nucleus trigeminalis caudalis
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