Phasic contractions of rat mesenteric lymphatics increase basal and phasic nitric oxide generation in vivo

H. Glenn Bohlen, Wei Wang, Anatoliy Gashev, Olga Gasheva, Dave Zawieja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


Multiple investigators have shown interdependence of lymphatic contractions on nitric oxide (NO) activity by pharmacological and traumatic suppression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). We demonstrated that lymphatic diastolic relaxation is particularly sensitive to NO from the lymphatic endothelium. The predicted mechanism is shear forces produced by the lymph flow during phasic pumping, activating eNOS in the lymphatic endothelium to produce NO. We measured [NO] during phasic contractions using microelectrodes on in situ mesenteric lymphatics in anesthetized rats under basal conditions and with an intravenous saline bolus (0.5 ml/100 g) or infusion (0.5 ml·100 g -1·h-1). Under basal conditions, [NO] measured on the tubular portions of the lymphatics was ∼200-250 nM, slightly higher than in the adjacent adipocyte microvasculature, whereas [NO] measured on the lymphatic bulb surface was ∼400 nM. Immunohistochemistry of eNOS in isolated lympathics indicated a much greater expression in the lymph valves and surrounding bulb area than in the tubular regions. During phasic lymphatic contractions, the valve and tubular [NO] increased with each contraction, and during intravenous saline infusion, [NO] increased in proportion to the contraction frequency and, presumably, lymph flow. The partial blockade of eNOS over ∼1 cm length with Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester lowered the [NO]. These in vivo data document for the first time that both valvular and tubular lymphatic segments increase NO generation during each phasic contraction and that [NO] summated with increased contraction frequency. The combined data predict regional variations in eNOS and [NO] in the tubular and valve areas, plus the summated NO responses dependent on contraction frequency provide for a complex relaxation mechanism involving NO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1319-H1328
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


  • Frequency contraction
  • Lymph flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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