BACKGROUND: Changes in sulfhydryl (SH) compound availability may alter the hemodynamic effect of nitroglycerin (NTG). Data on the relation between NTG effect and thiol levels are, however, limited to in vitro experiments. The present study investigates how intracellular and extracellular changes in SH group concentrations (cysteine and glutathione [GSH]) affect the responsiveness to NTG in vivo. METHODS AND RESULTS: GSH and cysteine levels in plasma, vena cava, and aorta were measured after administration of N-acetylserine (placebo, n = 6), N-acetylcysteine (NAC, extracellular and intracellular SH donor, n = 6), oxothiazolidine (OXO, intracellular SH donor, n = 6), buthionine sulfoximine (BSO, intracellular GSH-depleting agent, n = 6), BSO+NAC (n = 6), and BSO+OXO (n = 6) in chronically catheterized conscious rats. In addition, the effect of 2.5 mg NTG/kg i.v. on mean arterial pressure (MAP) was determined before and after the same treatment. NAC (5 mmol/kg i.v. for 2 hours) significantly (p < 0.05) increased extracellular cysteine and GSH levels and potentiated the hypotensive effect of NTG (from 26 +/- 3 to 31 +/- 4 mm Hg [mean +/- SEM], p < 0.05). OXO (5 mmol.kg-1 x hr-1 i.v. for 2 hours) significantly increased intracellular cysteine and GSH levels but had no effect on NTG responsiveness (p > 0.05). BSO (1 g i.p. three times within 24 hours) significantly decreased intracellular GSH levels (p < 0.05) and attenuated the effect of NTG (from 28 +/- 3 to 16 +/- 2 mm Hg). CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the acute hypotensive effect of NTG in vivo is: 1) increased by high extracellular GSH and/or cysteine levels (NAC), 2) decreased by low intracellular GSH levels (BSO), and 3) unaffected by high intracellular levels of cysteine and GSH (OXO).
Keywords: Animals; Aorta; Buthionine Sulfoximine; Cysteine; Female; Glutathione; Intracellular Membranes; Methionine Sulfoximine; Nitroglycerin; Rats; Rats, Wistar; Sulfhydryl Compounds; Time Factors; Vena Cava, Superior