The role of reactive nitrogen species in secondary spinal cord injury: Formation of nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, and nitrated protein

Danxia Liu, Xiang Ling, Jing Wen, Jing Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


To determine whether reactive nitrogen species contribute to secondary damage in CNS injury, the time courses of nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, and nitrotyrosine production were measured following impact injury to the rat spinal cord. The concentration of nitric oxide measured by a nitric oxide-selective electrode dramatically increased immediately following injury and then quickly declined. Nitro-L-arginine reduced nitric oxide production. The extracellular concentration of peroxynitrite, measured by perfusing tyrosine through a microdialysis fiber into the cord and quantifying nitrotyrosine in the microdialysates, significantly increased after injury to 3.5 times the basal level, and superoxide dismutase and nitro-L-arginine completely blocked peroxynitrite production. Tyrosine nitration examined immunohistochemically significantly increased at 12 and 24 h postinjury, but not in sham-control sections. Mn(III) tetrakis(4-benzoic acid)porphyrin (a novel cell-permeable superoxide dismutase mimetic) and nitro-L-arginine significantly reduced the numbers of nitrotyrosine-positive cells. Protein-bound nitrotyrosine was significantly higher in the injured tissue than in the sham-operated controls. These results demonstrate that traumatic injury increases nitric oxide and peroxynitrite production, thereby nitrating tyrosine, including protein-bound tyrosine. Together with our previous report that trauma increases superoxide, our results suggest that reactive nitrogen species cause secondary damage by nitrating protein through the pathway superoxide + nitric oxide → peroxynitrite → protein nitration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2144-2154
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Mn(III) tetrakis(4-benzoic acid)porphyrin
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitrotyrosine
  • Peroxynitrite
  • Protein nitration
  • Secondary spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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