Nitric oxide (NO) is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the gut. Alterations in NO mediated responses have been described in diabetic animals. The presence of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) reflects the potential for NO synthesis and is found in neurons in the myenteric plexus. The aim of this study was to determine changes in nitric oxide synthase (NOS) expression in the myenteric plexus of the gastrointestinal tract of diabetic rats at three months of streptozotocin-induced diabetes, compared to age matched controls, using immunohistochemistry. Diabetic animals showed a decrease in NOS expression in the antrum, with 59.1 ± 7.3% of neurons being positive for NOS in diabetes compared to 81.2 ± 4.7% in controls (P < 0.05). NOS expression in duodenum, ileum, and colon of diabetic animals was not statistically different from controls. Decreased expression of NOS in antrum may contribute to altered gastric emptying observed in diabetics.
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