This study examines the influence of aging on the neuronal nitric oxide (NO) and noradrenaline (NA) release elicited by electrical field stimulation (EFS; 200 mA, 0.3 ms, 1-16 Hz, 30 s) in endothelium-denuded mesenteric arteries from young and old rats, as well as the influence of the presynaptic β-adrenoceptors in that release. EFS induced frequency-dependent contractions. NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME) only enhanced EFS-elicited contractions in arteries from young rats. Capsaicin did not alter the EFS-induced contractions in either age group. Clenbuterol did not modify the contraction elicited by EFS in arteries from young or old rats either. A subsequent addition of l-NAME also induced an increase in the EFS-induced response in arteries from both age groups. In old rats, the presence of propranolol did not alter the response induced by EFS, and the subsequent addition of clenbuterol or clenbuterol plus l-NAME did not affect this response. In precontracted segments, sodium nitroprusside or clenbuterol induced similar relaxation in both age groups. None of the drugs used altered the response to exogenous NA or basal tone. In arteries preincubated with [3H]NA, EFS induced 3H release, which remained unmodified in the presence of clenbuterol or propranolol in young rats, whereas clenbuterol increased the 3H overflow in old rats, and this effect was abolished by propranolol. These drugs did not alter the basal 3H efflux and indicate that in rat mesenteric arteries EFS induces NA release in both age groups, and only NO release in young animals. Activation of presynaptic β-adrenoceptors increased NA and probably NO release in aged rats.

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