Inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in cultures enriched for mature oligodendrocytes is due to microglia

James A. Hewett, Sandra J. Hewett, Susan Winkler, Steve E. Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Expression of inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS-2) occurs during inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) and has been linked to demyelination accompanying certain CNS inflammatory diseases. Although astrocytes and microglia are thought to be the major sources of NOS-2 expression in the CNS in vivo, recent evidence suggested that the myelin- producing oligodendrocytes (OLs) themselves can express NOS-2 in culture. Given the potentially important pathological implications of this finding, the purpose of this study was to examine further the expression of NOS-2 by OLs in vitro. After exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ (IFNγ), primary cultures enriched for mature OLs released NO in a time- dependent manner, although the amount varied considerably between different culture preparations. Increased NO production was accompanied by expression of NOS-2 mRNA and protein, as determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot analysis, respectively. Immunoflourescence analysis revealed that the cell-type expressing NOS-2 in these cultures was galactocerebroside (Gal C)-negative but CD11b-positive. Further, NO production could be attenuated in cultures treated with the microglial/macrophage toxin, leucine methyl ester, prior to LPS/IFγ stimulation. Thus, microglia were the source of NOS-2 catalytic activity in these cultures. The present results indicate that LPS and IFN-γ are not effective stimuli for induction of NOS-2 in OLs in primary cell culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Interferon-γ
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • NOS-2
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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