No news on the flatworm front! Nitric oxide synthase in parasitic and free-living flatworms

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The free radical nitric oxide (NO) has emerged as a simple and unique signalling molecule that can serve as neurotransmitter, paracrine substance or hormone. NO is a gas, formed by various neuronal cells, both centrally and peripherally. NO regulates cyclic GMP synthesis. The production of NO can be detected using the NADPH diaphorase (NADPH-d) histochemical stain for nitric oxide synthase (NOS). NOS was detected in two parasitic flatworms, Diphyllobothrium dendriticum and Hymenolepis diminuta, and two free-living flatworms, Planaria torva and Girardia tigrina. The staining for NOS was very strong in the nervous system of both parasitic worms. The main nerve cords, the transverse ring commmissures, nerves in association with the musculature, especially the cirrus musculature and sensory nerve endings showed NADPH-d staining. The NADPH-d staining in the free-living flatworms was much weaker. Still NOS activity was found in the neuropile of the brain and in association with the pharynx musculature. The demonstration of NOS in flatworms, indicates that NO is an old signal molecule in evolutionary terms.

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