Effects of inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis on the cerebrovascular autoregulatory vasodilator response to hypotension were studied in conscious rats. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was determined with [14C]iodoantipyrine in a saline-treated control group and in three groups following inhibition of NO synthase activity by twice daily intraperitoneal injections of 50 mg/kg ofNG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME) for four days. In the saline-control group (n = 8) and in thel-NAME-treated Group (a) (n = 8) CBF was determined while systemic mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) remained at its resting level (means ± S.D., 128±6 and 151±11 mmHg, respectively). In the other groups CBF was determined after MABP was reduced by blood withdrawal to 118±9 and 88±8 mmHg in Groups (b) (n = 8) and (c) (n = 8), respectively. Despite the elevated MABP, global CBF was significantly lower inl-NAME-treated Group (a) than in the saline-controls (P < 0.005), indicating cerebral vasoconstriction striction resulting from inhibition of NO synthesis. Global CBF was not significantly reduced further in the two groups with hypotension. Local CBF in the hypotensive rats showed no significant reductions below values inl-NAME-treated control rats (Group (a)) in 31 of 32 brain structures; the only exception was in the auditory cortex of the severely hypotensive rats (Group (c)). The autoregulatory mechanism for cerebral vasodilatation to compensate for reduced arterial blood pressure is maintained following inhibition of NO synthesis.
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