Ischemic hypoxia provokes alterations in the production system of nitric oxide in the cerebellum. We hypothesize that the nitric oxide system may undergo modifications due to hypobaric hypoxia and that may play a role in high altitude pathophysiology. Therefore, changes in the nitric oxide system of the cerebellum of rats submitted to acute hypobaric hypoxia were investigated. Adult rats were exposed for 7 h to a simulated altitude of 8235 m (27000 ft.) and then killed after 0 h or 1, 3, 5 and 10 days of reoxygenation. Nitric oxide synthase calcium-dependent and -independent activity, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry of neuronal, endothelial, and inducible nitric oxide synthase, and nitrotyrosine were evaluated. Immunoreactivity for neuronal nitric oxide synthase slightly increased in the baskets of the Purkinje cell layer and in the granule cells, after 0 h of reoxygenation, although no changes in neuronal nitric oxide synthase immunoblotting densitometry were detected. Calcium-dependent activity significantly rose after 0 h of reoxygenation, reaching control levels in the following points, and being coincident with a peak of eNOS expression. Nitrotyrosine formation showed significant increments after 0 h and 1 day of reoxygenation. Nitrotyrosine immunoreactivity showed an intracellular location change in the neurons of the cerebellar nuclei and in addition, an appearance of nitration in the soma of the Purkinje cells was detected. No changes in inducible nitric oxide synthase activity, immunoblotting or immunohistochemistry were detected. We conclude that at least part of the nitric oxide system is involved in cerebellum responses to hypobaric hypoxia.
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