Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Has Divergent Effects on Vascular and Metabolic Function in Obesity

  1. Brian T. Noronha,
  2. Jian-Mei Li,
  3. Stephen B. Wheatcroft,
  4. Ajay M. Shah and
  5. Mark T. Kearney
  1. Cardiovascular Division, King’s College London, London, U.K
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Mark T. Kearney Department of Cardiology, GKT School of Medicine, Bessemer Road, Denmark Hill, London, SE59PJ, U.K. E-mail: mark.kearney{at}


Previous studies have suggested an involvement of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in obesity, but the relation, if any, between this and mechanisms underlying endothelial dysfunction in obesity is unknown. We studied mice fed an obesogenic high-fat or standard diet for up to 8 weeks. Obesity was associated with elevated blood pressure; resistance to the glucoregulatory actions of insulin; resistance to the vascular actions of insulin, assessed as the reduction in phenylephrine constrictor response of aortic rings after insulin preincubation (lean −21.7 ± 11.5 vs. obese 18.2 ± 15.5%; P < 0.05); and evidence of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent vasodilatation in response to acetylcholine in aortic rings (change in maximal relaxation to acetylcholine after exposure to catalase: lean −2.1 ± 6.0 vs. obese −15.0 ± 3.8%; P = 0.04). Obese mice had increased expression of iNOS in aorta, with evidence of increased vascular NO production, assessed as the increase in maximal constriction to phenylephrine after iNOS inhibition with 1400W (lean −3.5 ± 9.1 vs. obese 42.1 ± 11.2%; P < 0.001). To further address the role of iNOS in obesity-induced vascular and metabolic dysfunction, we studied the effect of a high-fat diet in iNOS knockout mice (iNOS KO). Obese iNOS KO mice were protected against the development of resistance to insulin’s glucoregulatory and vascular effects (insulin-dependent reduction in maximal phenylephrine response: obese wild-type 11.2 ± 15.0 vs. obese iNOS KO −20.0 ± 7.7%; P = 0.02). However, obese iNOS KO mice remained hypertensive (124.0 ± 0.7 vs. 114.9 ± 0.5 mmHg; P < 0.01) and had evidence of increased vascular ROS production. Although these data support iNOS as a target to protect against the adverse effects of obesity on glucoregulation and vascular insulin resistance, iNOS inhibition does not prevent the development of raised blood pressure or oxidative stress.


    • Accepted January 10, 2005.
    • Received October 8, 2004.
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