Nitrogen monoxide (NO) has been reported to both activate and inhibit prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis. This apparent paradox might be explained by the production/action of distinct NO-related species formed as a result of the prevailing redox states of different cellular systems. As such, the effect of NO donors with different redox characteristics on the modulation of prostaglandin H synthase-2 (PGHS-2) in primary mouse cortical astrocytes and COS-7 cells engineered to overexpress PGHS-2 was assessed. In general, compounds that released NO• or NO- enhanced, while a peroxynitrite (OONO-) generator inhibited, PGHS-2-dependent prostaglandin production. While the possibility of altered gene transcription was eliminated in the COS-7 system as PGHS-2 was maximally expressed, in primary astrocytes where PGHS-2 expression was induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), effects on protein expression were detected. Compounds that released NO• synergistically enhanced LPS-mediated PGHS-2 protein synthesis. None of these effects were mediated by cGMP. All donors lost their ability to modulate PGHS-2 expression and function when decayed. These results indicate that the ultimate effect of NO on PGHS-2 enzyme activity and expression is dictated by the prevalent NO-related species formed, suggesting that important interactions which may exist between NO and prostanoid pathways in vivo will be highly dependent on the inherent redox environment.
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