Expression of NO-synthase in cells of foreign-body and BCG-induced granulomata in mice: influence of L-NAME on the evolution of the lesion

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The microbicidal activity of macrophages in an inflammatory milieu has been related to the production of a large number of cytokins and intermediary metabolites of oxygen and nitrogen among them, nitric oxide (NO). Considering that granulomatous inflammation is predominantly composed of macrophages and epithelioid cells, we decided to investigate the participation of NO in this peculiar type of inflammation. Two models were used: glass cover slip implantation into the subcutaneous tissue of mice and, the inoculation of live bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the footpad of the animals. Using a histochemical method for the detection of NO synthase and of the concentration of citrulin metabolized by cells obtained from cover slips implanted on different time intervals or BCG-activated peritoneal cells, it was possible to demonstrate that epithelioid cells do not produce NO. Cells from granuloma induced by BCG inoculation express NO synthase, with different degrees of reactivity with a higher intensity in the cytoplasm of cells located in the edge of the lesions. The expression of NO synthase in the cytoplasm of these cells decreases with the age of the lesions. It could also be demonstrated that in mice treated with L-NAME, an inhibitor of NO metabolism, the lesions induced by BCG lost the granulomatous architecture, were necrotic, and had a significant increase in the bacillary load of the lesion. These data allow us to conclude that NO production by macrophages is a determining factor in the organization of the granulomatous lesion and that it also controls the bacterial load in BCG-induced lesions in mice.

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