The roles that nitric oxide (NO) plays in the cardiovascular system of reptiles are reviewed, with particular emphasis on its effects on central vascular blood flows in the systemic and pulmonary circulations. New data is presented that describes the effects on hemodynamic variables in varanid lizards of exogenously administered NO via the nitric oxide donor sodium nitroprusside (SNP) and inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) by l-nitroarginine methyl ester (l-NAME). Furthermore, preliminary data on the effects of SNP on hemodynamic variables in the tegu lizard are presented. The findings are compared with previously published data from our laboratory on three other species of reptiles: pythons (), rattlesnakes () and turtles (). These five species of reptiles possess different combinations of division of the heart and structural complexity of the lungs. Comparison of their responses to NO donors and NOS inhibitors may reveal whether the potential contribution of NO to vascular tone correlates with pulmonary complexity and/or with blood pressure. All existing studies on reptiles have clearly established a potential role for NO in regulating vascular tone in the systemic circulation and NO may be important for maintaining basal systemic vascular tone in varanid lizards, pythons and turtles, through a continuous release of NO. In contrast, the pulmonary circulation is less responsive to NO donors or NOS inhibitors, and it was only in pythons and varanid lizards that the lungs responded to SNP. Both species have a functionally separated heart, so it is possible that NO may exert a larger role in species with low pulmonary blood pressures, irrespective of lung complexity.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Oct 2005|
- local regulation
- blood pressure
- nitric oxide
- blood flow