The role of nitric oxide (NO) in the gastric mucosal blood flow response and the healing of HCl-induced gastric lesions was investigated in rats. After 18 h fasting rats were given 0.6 N HCl p.o. for the induction of gastric lesions, and 1 h later they were fed normally. After induction of gastric lesions, they were repeatedly administered the NO synthase inhibitors NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME 5-20 mg/kg p.o. twice daily) or aminoguanidine (20 mg/kg s.c. once daily) for 7 days. Gastric lesions caused by HCl healed almost completely within 5 days with granulation and to an extent with re-epithelialization. Repeated administration of L-NAME but not aminoguanidine significantly delayed the healing of gastric lesions in a dose-dependent manner. The damaged mucosa secreted less acid, but showed a marked rise in H+ permeability, resulting in luminal acid loss accompanied by an increase of mucosal blood flow. Aminoguanidine did not significantly affect any of these functional changes observed in the stomach after damage by HCl, whereas L-NAME treatment slightly reversed the decreased acid response, increased the luminal H+ loss, and totally inhibited the mucosal hyperemic response associated with luminal acid loss in the damaged mucosa. In addition, the deleterious influences of L-NAME on the mucosal blood flow response and the healing of gastric lesions were significantly antagonized by co-administration of L-arginine but not of D-arginine (500 mg/kg × 2, i.p.). Luminal output ofNO-2/NO-3 was significantly increased in pylorus-ligated stomachs in control rats on days 3 and 5 after damage, and such increases in gastric NO output were completely attenuated by L-NAME treatment. These results suggest that endogenous NO may contribute to the healing of acute gastric injury by mediating the mucosal hyperemic responses associated with acid back-diffusion and by facilitating acid disposal in the damaged mucosa. NO mediating such responses and participating in the healing aspect of gastric lesions may be produced by the constitutive type of NO synthase.

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