An Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Nitric Oxide in the Microcirculation Dissertation

(2012). An Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Nitric Oxide in the Microcirculation . 10.25148/etd.FI12080622

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Namin, Shabnam M


  • Nitric Oxide (NO) is produced in the vascular endothelium where it then diffuses to the adjacent smooth muscle cells (SMC) activating agents known to regulate vascular tone. The close proximity of the site of NO production to the red blood cells (RBC) and its known fast consumption by hemoglobin, suggests that the blood will scavenge most of the NO produced. Therefore, it is unclear how NO is able to play its role in accomplishing vasodilation. Investigation of NO production and consumption rates will allow insight into this paradox.

    DAF-FM is a sensitive NO fluorescence probe widely used for qualitative assessment of cellular NO production. With the aid of a mathematical model of NO/DAF-FM reaction kinetics, experimental studies were conducted to calibrate the fluorescence signal showing that the slope of fluorescent intensity is proportional to [NO]2 and exhibits a saturation dependence on [DAF-FM]. In addition, experimental data exhibited a Km dependence on [NO]. This finding was incorporated into the model elucidating NO2 as the possible activating agent of DAF-FM. A calibration procedure was formed and applied to agonist stimulated cells, providing an estimated NO release rate of 0.418 ± 0.18 pmol/cm2s.

    To assess NO consumption by RBCs, measurements of the rate of NO consumption in a gas stream flowing on top of an RBC solution of specified Hematocrit (Hct) was performed. The consumption rate constant (kbl)in porcine RBCs at 25oC and 45% Hct was estimated to be 3500 + 700 s-1. kbl is highly dependent on Hct and can reach up to 9900 + 4000 s-1 for 60% Hct. The nonlinear dependence of kbl on Hct suggests a predominant role for extracellular diffusion in limiting NO uptake.

    Further simulations showed a linear relationship between varying NO production rates and NO availability in the SMCs utilizing the estimated NO consumption rate. The corresponding SMC [NO] level for the average NO production rate estimated was approximately 15.1 nM. With the aid of experimental and theoretical methods we were able to examine the NO paradox and exhibit that endothelial derived NO is able to escape scavenging by RBCs to diffuse to the SMCs.

publication date

  • June 27, 2012


  • DAF-FM
  • calibration
  • nitric oxide

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)