Circadian variation of nitric oxide synthase activity in mouse tissue

Bahar Tunçtan, Yuval Weigl, Aviva Dotan, Leah Peleg, Hakan Zengil, Israel Ashkenazi, Nurettin Abacoǧlu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endogenous nitric oxide (NO) is an important mediator in the processes that control biological clocks and circadian rhythms. The present study was designed to elucidate if NO synthase (NOS) activity in the brain, kidney, testis, aorta, and lungs and plasma NOx levels in mice are controlled by an endogenous circadian pacemaker. Male BALB/c mice were exposed to two different lighting regimens of either light-dark 14:10 (LD) or continuous lighting (LL). At nine different equidistant time points (commencing at 09:00h) blood samples and tissues were taken from mice. The plasma and tissue homogenates were used to measure the levels of NO2 + NO3- (NOx) and total protein. The NOx concentrations were determined by a commercial nitric oxide synthase assay kit, and protein content was assessed in each homogenate tissue sample by the Lowry method. Nitric oxide synthase activity was calculated as pmol/mg protein/h. The resulting patterns were analyzed by the single cosinor method for pre-adjusted periods and by curve-fitting programs to elucidate compound rhythmicity. The NOS activity in kidneys of mice exposed to LD exhibited a circadian rhythm, but no rhythmicity was detected in mice exposed to LL. Aortic NOS activity displayed 24h rhythmicity only in LL. Brain, testis, and lung NOS activity and plasma NOx levels displayed 24h rhythms both in LD and LL. Acrophase values of NOS activity in brain, kidney, testis, and lungs were at midnight corresponding to their behavioral activities. Compound rhythms were also detected in many of the examined patterns. The findings suggest that NOS activity in mouse brain, aorta, lung, and testis are regulated by an endogenous clock, while in kidney the rhythm in NOS activity is synchronized by the exogenous signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-404
Number of pages12
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Mouse
  • Tissue nitric oxide synthase activity


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