The aim of our study was to evaluate whether the blood pressure (BP) response to chronic inhibition of NO synthase (NOS) is exaggerated in young rats, which were reported to develop a more pronounced salt hypertension than the adult ones. The enhanced BP rise in immature rats subjected to excess salt intake might be due either to a generally increased reactivity in immature organisms to these stimuli or to a greater impairment of NO bioavailability that accompanies the development of salt hypertension. To determine between the two alternatives, we have compared the hypertensive response and the extent of NOS inhibition in immature (4-week-old) and adult (12-week-old) male Wistar rats which were treated with NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME, 40 mg/kg of body mass per day) for 4 weeks. BP and NOS activity in the aorta, left ventricle and kidney were determined at the end of the experiment. It should be noted that chronic L-NAME treatment caused a similar degree of NOS inhibition in both age groups (irrespective of tissue examined). There was no significant difference in BP elevation between young and adult animals chronically treated with L-NAME. A strong negative correlation between NOS activity and BP level was observed in separate groups of normotensive controls and L-NAME hypertensive rats. Thus the BP of both normotensive and hypertensive animals seems to be inversely proportional to the production of NO. It can be concluded that there was the same BP rise in both age groups of L-NAME-treated rats in which a similar degree of NOS inhibition was disclosed. This suggests that the altered NO bioavailability (but not the generally exaggerated reactivity to hypertensive stimuli) is the cause of exaggerated hypertensive response observed in immature rats exposed to excess salt intake.

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