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Nitric oxide (NO) plays a key role in vascular homeostasis. Accurate measurement of NO production by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is critical for the investigation of vascular disease mechanisms using genetically modified animal models. Previous assays of NO production measuring the conversion of arginine to citrulline have required homogenisation of tissue and reconstitution with cofactors including NADPH and tetrahydrobiopterin. However, the activity and regulation of NOS in vivo is critically dependant on tissue levels of these cofactors. Therefore, understanding eNOS regulation requires assays of NO production in intact vascular tissue that do not depend on the addition of exogenous cofactors and have sufficient sensitivity and specificity. We describe a novel technique, using radiochemical detection of arginine to citrulline conversion, to measure NO production within intact mouse aortas, without exogenous cofactors. We demonstrate the presence of arginase activity in mouse aortas which has the potential to confound this assay. Furthermore, we describe the use of N-hydroxy-nor-L-arginine (nor-NOHA) to inhibit arginase and permit specific detection of NO production in intact mouse tissue. Using this technique we demonstrate a 2.4-fold increase in NO production in aortas of transgenic mice overexpressing eNOS in the endothelium, and show that this technique has high specificity and high sensitivity for detection of in situ NO synthesis by eNOS in mouse vascular tissue. These results have important implications for the investigation of NOS regulation in cells and tissues.

Original publication




Journal article


Nitric Oxide

Publication Date





1 - 9


Animals, Arginase, Arginine, Cell Line, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Endothelium, Vascular, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Nitric Oxide, Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III, Radiometry