Developmental changes in nitric oxide synthase isoform expression and nitric oxide production in fetal baboon lung

Philip W. Shaul, Sam Afshar, Linda L. Gibson, Todd S. Sherman, Jay D. Kerecman, Peter H. Grubb, Bradley A. Yoder, Donald C. McCurnin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO), produced by NO synthase (NOS), plays a critical role in multiple processes in the lung during the perinatal period. To better understand the regulation of pulmonary NO production in the developing primate, we determined the cell specificity and developmental changes in NOS isoform expression and action in the lungs of third-trimester fetal baboons. Immunohistochemistry in lungs obtained at 175 days (d) of gestation (term = 185 d) revealed that all three NOS isoforms, neuronal NOS (nNOS), endothelial NOS (eNOS), and inducible NOS (iNOS), are primarily expressed in proximal airway epithelium. In proximal lung, there was a marked increase in total NOS enzymatic activity from 125 to 140 d gestation due to elevations in nNOS and eNOS, whereas iNOS expression and activity were minimal. Total NOS activity was constant from 140 to 175 d gestation, and during the latter stage (160-175 d gestation), a dramatic fall in nNOS and eNOS was replaced by a rise in iNOS. Studies done within 1 h of delivery at 125 or 140 d gestation revealed that the principal increase in NOS during the third trimester is associated with an elevation in exhaled NO levels, a decline in expiratory resistance, and greater pulmonary compliance. Thus, there are developmental increases in pulmonary NOS expression and NO production during the early third trimester in the primate that may enhance airway and parenchymal function in the immediate postnatal period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L1192-L1199
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6 27-6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway epithelium
  • Compliance
  • Expiratory resistance
  • Primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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