Vasodilator mechanisms in the dorsal aorta of the giant shovelnose ray, Rhinobatus typus (Rajiformes; Rhinobatidae)

John A. Donald, Brad R.S. Broughton, Michael B. Bennett

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This study investigated the nature of vasodilator mechanisms in the dorsal aorta of the giant shovelnose ray, Rhinobatus typus. Anatomical techniques found no evidence for an endothelial nitric oxide synthase, but neural nitric oxide synthase was found to be present in the perivascular nerve fibres of the dorsal aorta and other arteries and veins using both NADPH-diaphorase staining and immunohistochemistry with a specific neural NOS antibody. Arteries and veins both contained large nNOS-positive nerve trunks from which smaller nNOS-positive bundles branched and formed a plexus in the vessel wall. Single, varicose nNOS-positive nerve fibres were present in both arteries and veins. Within the large bundles of both arteries and veins, groups of nNOS-positive cell bodies forming microganglia were observed. Double-labelling immunohistochemistry using an antibody to tyrosine hydroxylase showed that nearly all the NOS nerves were not sympathetic. Acetylcholine always caused constriction of isolated rings of the dorsal aorta and the nitric oxide donor, sodium nitroprusside, did not mediate any dilation. Addition of nicotine (3 × 10-4 M) to preconstricted rings caused a vasodilation that was not affected by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, L-NNA (10-4 M), nor the soluble guanylyl cyclase inhibitor, ODQ (10-5 M). This nicotine-mediated vasodilation was, therefore, not due to the synthesis and release of NO. Disruption of the endothelium significantly reduced or eliminated the nicotine-mediated vasodilation. In addition, indomethacin (10-5 M), an inhibitor of cyclooxygenases, significantly increased the time period to maximal dilation and reduced, but did not completely inhibit the nicotine-mediated vasodilation. These data support the hypothesis that a prostaglandin is released from the vascular endothelium of a batoid ray, as has been described previously in other groups of fishes. The function of the nitrergic innervation of the blood vessels is not known because nitric oxide does not appear to regulate vascular tone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelium
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Prostaglandin
  • Rhinobatus typus
  • Soluble guanylyl cyclase

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