Inducible nitric oxide synthase activity in colon biopsies from inflammatory areas: correlation with inflammation intensity in patients with ulcerative colitis but not with Crohn's disease
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Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activities are responsible for the enzymatic conversion of L-arginine into NO and L-citrulline. Relatively low amounts of NO are produced in intestinal epithelial cells or are released from nerve endings. The effects of NO production are related to the maintenance of epithelial integrity and permeability. A pathological role of an increased NO production has been suggested to play a role in models of experimental colitis. In humans, NOS activity in colon mucosa from patients with ulcerative colitis is clearly increased when compared with the activity of the control group. In contrast, an increase of NOS activity in the colon mucosa from patients with Crohn's disease remains controversial. In the present work, we have measured NOS activity in colon biopsies originating from the control group (n = 16), from patients with ulcerative colitis (n = 23) and Crohn's disease (n = 17) using the radiochemical method of the conversion of L-[guanido-14C] arginine into radioactive L-citrulline. In the control group, NOS activity was mainly of the inducible type (88% of total NOS activity) since it was characterised by its insensibility to the absence of calcium in the assay medium. In colon biopsies originating from patients with ulcerative colitis, inducible NOS activity was increased 3 fold (p < 0.005) and in patients with Crohn's disease, inducible NOS activity was increased 5 fold (p < 0.005). Correlations between NOS activity in colon biopsies and the intensity parameters of the disease i.e. Truelove index, endoscopic score and histo-logical parameters were evidenced in patients with ulcerative colitis. In contrast, in patients with Crohn's disease, the high inducible NOS activity was not correlated with any intensity parameters of the disease. From these data, we concluded that although inducible NOS activity was increased several fold in colon biopsies originating from patients with both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, a correlation between this activity and the severity of bowel inflammation was not found in either cases.
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