Peripheral neuropathy in mice with neuronal nitric oxide synthase gene deficiency

Igor Vareniuk, Pal Pacher, Ivan A. Pavlov, Viktor R. Drel, Irina G. Obrosova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Evidence for the important role of the potent oxidant peroxynitrite in peripheral diabetic neuropathy and neuropathic pain is emerging. This study evaluated the contribution of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) to diabetes-induced nitrosative stress in peripheral nerve and dorsal root ganglia, and peripheral nerve dysfunction and degeneration. Control and nNOS-/-mice were made diabetic with streptozotocin, and maintained for 6 weeks. Peroxynitrite injury was assessed by nitrotyrosine and poly(ADP-ribose) immunoreactivities. Peripheral diabetic neuropathy was evaluated by measurements of sciatic motor and hind-limb digital sensory nerve conduction velocities, thermal algesia, tactile allodynia, and intraepidermal nerve fiber density. Control nNOS-/-mice displayed normal motor nerve conduction velocity and thermal response latency, whereas sensory nerve conduction velocity was slightly lower compared with non-diabetic wild-type mice, and tactile response threshold and intraepidermal nerve fiber density were reduced by 47 and 38%, respectively. Both diabetic wild-type and nNOS-/-mice displayed enhanced nitrosative stress in peripheral nerve. In contrast to diabetic wild-type mice, diabetic nNOS-/-mice had near normal nitrotyrosine and poly(ADP-ribose) immunofluorescence in dorsal root ganglia. Both diabetic wild-type and nNOS-/-mice developed motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity deficits and thermal hypoalgesia although nNOS gene deficiency slightly reduced severity of the three disorders. Tactile response thresholds were similarly decreased in control and diabetic nNOS-/-mice compared with non-diabetic wild-type mice. Intraepidermal nerve fiber density was lower by 27% in diabetic nNOS-/-mice compared with the corresponding non-diabetic group, and by 20% in diabetic nNOS-/-mice compared with diabetic wild-type mice. In conclusion, nNOS is required for maintaining the normal peripheral nerve function and small sensory nerve fibre innervation. nNOS gene deficiency does not protect from development of nerve conduction deficit, sensory neuropathy and intraepidermal nerve fiber loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of molecular medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Nerve conduction
  • Neuronal nitric oxide synthase
  • Nitrosative stress
  • Peripheral diabetic neuropathy
  • Streptozotocindiabetic mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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