Indexed on: 16 Jul '14Published on: 16 Jul '14Published in: Experimental Eye Research
Nitric oxide synthases (NOS) are involved in regulation of ocular vascular tone and blood flow. While endothelial NOS (eNOS) has recently been shown to mediate endothelium-dependent vasodilation in mouse retinal arterioles, the contribution of individual NOS isoforms to vascular responses is unknown in the retrobulbar vasculature. Moreover, it is unknown whether the lack of a single NOS isoform affects neuron survival in the retina. Thus, the goal of the present study was to examine the hypothesis that the lack of individual nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms affects the reactivity of mouse ophthalmic arteries and neuron density in the retinal ganglion cell (RGC) layer. Mice deficient in one of the three NOS isoforms (nNOS-/-, iNOS-/- and eNOS-/-) were compared to respective wild type controls. Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured in conscious mice using rebound tonometry. To examine the role of each NOS isoform for mediating vascular responses, ophthalmic arteries were studied in vitro using video microscopy. Neuron density in the RGC layer was calculated from retinal wholemounts stained with cresyl blue. IOP was similar in all NOS-deficient genotypes and respective wild type controls. In ophthalmic arteries, phenylephrine, nitroprusside and acetylcholine evoked concentration-dependent responses that did not differ between individual NOS-deficient genotypes and their respective controls. In all genotypes except eNOS-/- mice, vasodilation to acetylcholine was markedly reduced after incubation with L-NAME, a non-isoform-selective inhibitor of NOS. In contrast, pharmacological inhibition of nNOS and iNOS had no effect on acetylcholine-induced vasodilation in any of the mouse genotypes. Neuron density in the RGC layer was similar in all NOS-deficient genotypes and respective controls. Our findings suggest that eNOS contributes to endothelium-dependent dilation of murine ophthalmic arteries. However, the chronic lack of eNOS is functionally compensated by NOS-independent vasodilator mechanisms. The lack of a single NOS isoform does not appear to affect IOP or neuron density in the RGC layer.