The regional distribution of nitric oxide synthase activity in the spinal cord of the dog.
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to examine the distribution of calcium-dependent nitric oxide synthase activity (cNOS) in the white and gray matter in cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral segments of the spinal cord and cauda equina of the dog. The enzyme's activity, measured by the conversion of [3H]arginine to [3H]citrulline revealed considerable region-dependent differences along the rostrocaudal axis of the spinal cord in general and in cervical (C1, C2, C4, C6 and C8) and lumbar (L1-L3, L4-L7) segments in particular. In the non-compartmentalized spinal cord, the cNOS activity was lowest in the thoracic and highest in the sacral segments. No significant differences were noted in the gray matter regions (dorsal horn, intermediate zone and ventral horn) and the white matter columns (dorsal, lateral and ventral) in the upper cervical segments (C1-C4), except for a significant increase in the ventral horn of C4 segment. In C6 segment, the enzyme's activity displayed significant differences in the intermediate zone, ventral and lateral columns. Surprisingly, extremely high cNOS activity was noted in the dorsal horn and dorsal column of the lowest cervical segment. Comparing the enzyme's activity in upper and lower lumbar segments of the spinal cord, cNOS activity prevailed in L4-L7 segments in the dorsal horn and in all the above mentioned white matter columns.