We have examined how the suppression of endogenous production of nitric oxide (NO) in the striatal tissue affects release of glutamate (GLU) and glutamine (GLN) in pentobarbital-anesthetized male Sprague-Dawley rats. For the quantitative measurement of tissue NO production and amino acid release, an in vivo assay system for extracellular nitrite (NO2-) and amino acids was employed using an in vivo microdialysis technique. An NO synthase inhibitor (N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, L-NAME) in concentrations ranging between 4-40 mM was perfused into the rat striatum using the assay system. Tissue NO production was found to be inversely proportional to the L-NAME concentration. L-NAME likewise decreased striatal levels of GLU and GLN. Furthermore, tissue NO production showed a positive correlation with GLU (R = 0.62, P < 0.02) and GLN (R = 0.86, P < 0.001) concentrations. Exogenous application of NO and cGMP by intrastriatal perfusion with 0.1-2.5 mM hydroxylamine and 0.4-10 mM 8-bromo-cGMP, respectively, increased striatal GLU release in a dose-related manner. Hydroxylamine reduced GLN release, and 8-bromo-cGMP showed a tendency to decrease GLN. In conclusion, striatal GLU/GLN metabolism is a function of the tissue concentration of NO. Normal endogenous concentration of NO causes GLU to be released at a consistent basal level, and enhanced tissue NO production facilitates GLU release via pathways including cGMP formation. We hypothesize that NO may suppress GLN formation by astrocytes.
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