Does nitric oxide buffer arterial blood pressure variability in humans?

William H. Cooke, Rong Zhang, Julie H. Zuckerman, Jian Cui, Thad E. Wilson, Craig G. Crandall, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Animal studies suggest that nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in buffering short-term arterial pressure variability, but data from humans addressing this hypothesis are scarce. We evaluated the effects of NO synthase (NOS) inhibition on arterial blood pressure (BP) variability in eight healthy subjects in the supine position and during 60° head-up tilt (HUT). Systemic NOS was blocked by intravenous infusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA). Electrocardiogram and beat-by-beat BP in the finger (Finapres) were recorded continuously for 6 min, and brachial cuff BP was recorded before and after L-NMMA in each body position. BP and R-R variability and their transfer functions were quantified by power spectral analysis in the low-frequency (LF; 0.05-0.15 Hz) and high-frequency (HF; 0.15-0.35 Hz) ranges. L-NMMA infusion increased supine BP (systolic, 109 ± 4 vs. 122 ± 3 mmHg, P = 0.03; diastolic, 68 ± 2 vs. 78 ± 3 mmHg, P = 0.002), but it did not affect supine R-R interval or BP variability. Before L-NMMA, HUT decreased HF R-R variability (P = 0.03), decreased transfer function gain (LF, 12 ± 2 vs. 5 ± 1 ms/mmHg, P = 0.007; HF, 18 ± 3 vs. 3 ± 1 ms/mmHg, P = 0.002), and increased LF BP variability (P < 0.0001). After L-NMMA, HUT resulted in similar changes in BP and R-R variability compared with tilt without L-NMMA. Increased supine BP after L-NMMA with no effect on BP variability during HUT suggests that tonic release of NO is important for systemic vascular tone and thus steady-state arterial pressure, but NO does not buffer dynamic BP oscillations in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1466-1470
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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