Carbon monoxide-induced relaxation and distribution of haem oxygenase isoenzymes in the pig urethra and lower oesophagogastric junction

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1. The distribution of the carbon monoxide (CO) producing enzymes haem oxygenase (HO)-1 and -2 was studied by immunohistochemistry in the pig's lower urinary tract, including bladder extramural arteries, and the oesophagogastric junction (OGJ). In isolated smooth muscle from the urethra and the OGJ, the mechanisms for CO-induced relaxations were characterized by measurement of cyclic nucleotide levels and by responses to the guanylate cyclase inhibitor methylene blue and some K+ channel inhibitors. 2. HO-2 immunoreactivity was observed in coarse nerve trunks within the smooth muscle of the urethra and OGJ, and in nerve cell bodies of the enteric plexuses of the OGJ. Furthermore, the vascular endothelium of the intramural vessels of the urethra, bladder and OGJ, and the extramural vessels of the bladder, displayed HO-2 immunoreactivity. Two different antisera against HO-1 were used, but only one displayed immunoreactivity in neuronal structures. HO-1 immunoreactivity, as displayed by this antiserum, was seen in nerve cells, coarse nerve trunks and varicose nerve fibres in the smooth muscle of the urethra and OGJ. Some HO-2 and/or HO-1 (as displayed by both HO-1 antisera) immunoreactive cells with a non-neuronal appearance were observed within the smooth muscle of the OGJ, bladder and urethra. 3. In the urethral preparations, exogenously applied CO (72 microM) evoked a relaxation amounting to 76 +/- 6%. The relaxation was associated with an increase in cyclic GMP, but not cyclic AMP, content. CO-evoked relaxations were not significantly reduced by treatment with methylene blue, or by inhibitors of voltage-dependent (4-aminopyridine), high (iberiotoxin, charybdotoxin) and low (apamin) conductance Ca(2+)-activated, and ATP-sensitive (glibenclamide) K+ channels. Bladder strips, and ring preparations from the extramural arteries of the bladder, did not respond to exogenously administered CO (12-72 microM). 4. In the OGJ, exogenously applied CO evoked a relaxation of 86 +/- 6%, which was associated with an increase in cyclic GMP, but not cyclic AMP, content. Treatment with 30 microM methylene blue raised the spontaneously developed muscle tone, and reduced the maximum relaxation evoked by CO to 33 +/- 9%. Addition of 4-aminopyridine, apamin, glibenclamide, iberiotoxin, charybdotoxin or glibenclamide had no effect on the relaxations. 4-aminopyridine (0.1-1 mM), iberiotoxin (0.1 microM) and charybdotoxin (0.1 microM) increased the spontaneously developed tone, and a combination of charybdotoxin and apamin reduced CO-induced (24 microM CO) relaxations. 5. The present findings demonstrate the presence of HO in both neuronal and non-neuronal cells in the pig OGJ and lower urinary tract. CO produces relaxation of the smooth muscle in the OGJ and urethra, associated with a small increase in cyclic GMP concentration in both regions. Relaxations evoked by CO in the urethra do not seem to involve voltage-dependent, low and high conductance, or ATP-dependent K+ channels. However, in the OGJ relaxations evoked by CO can be attenuated by methylene blue and a combination of charybdotoxin and apamin.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology


  • Carbon monoxide, cyclic nucleotides, haem oxygenase, lower oesophagogastric junction, lower urinary tract, potassium channels, smooth muscle relaxation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Publication categoryResearch