Amino Acids

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 181–190 | Cite as

Nitric oxide mediates either proliferation or cell death in cardiomyocytes. Involvement of polyamines

  • Carla Pignatti
  • B. Tantini
  • C. Stefanelli
  • E. Giordano
  • F. Bonavita
  • C. Clô
  • C. M. Caldarera
Full Papers


Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule involved in several signal transduction pathways leading either to proliferation or to cell death. Induction of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the key enzyme of polyamine biosynthesis, represents an early event preceding DNA synthesis. In some cell types increased ODC activity seems to be involved in cytotoxic response. We investigated the role of NO and ODC induction on the events linked to cell proliferation or to cell death in cultured chick embryo cardiomyocytes. Exposure of cardiomyocytes to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) caused NO synthase (NOS) and ODC induction as well as increased incorporation of [3H]-thymidine. This last effect was blocked by a NOS inhibitor and was strongly reduced by difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an irreversible inhibitor of ODC. Sodium nitroprusside (SNP), an exogenous NO donor, inhibited the increases of NOS and ODC activities and abolished the mitogenic effect of TNF and LPS. Moreover, SNP alone caused cell death in a dose dependent manner. The cytotoxicity of SNP was not affected by DFMO while it was prevented by antioxidants. The results suggest that different pathways would mediate the response of cardiomyocytes to NO: they can lead either to ODC induction and DNA synthesis when NO is formed through NOS induction or to growth inhibition and cell death, when NO is supplied as NO donor. Increased polyamine biosynthesis would mediate the proliferative response of NO, while the cytotoxicity of exogenous NO seems to involve some oxidative reactions and to depend on the balance between NO availability and cellular redox mechanisms.


Amino acids Nitric oxide Ornithine decarboxylase Proliferation Cell death Cardiomyocytes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla Pignatti
    • 1
  • B. Tantini
    • 1
  • C. Stefanelli
    • 1
  • E. Giordano
    • 1
  • F. Bonavita
    • 1
  • C. Clô
    • 2
  • C. M. Caldarera
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry “G. Moruzzi”University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Biological ChemistryUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly

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