Tan, D. Y., M. R. Cernadas, P. Aragoncillo, M. A. Castilla, M. V. A. Arroyo, A. J. L. Farre, S. Casado and C. Caramelo. Role of nitric oxide-related mechanisms in renal function in ageing rats. NEPHROLOGY DIALYSIS TRANSPLANTATION. 13:594-601, 1998.

Background. The impaired renal function and vasodilatation that accompany age need to be re-addressed based upon the new knowledge concerning vascular nitric oxide (NO)-dependent systems. The present study examined the effects of age on the NO-related renal response.
Methods. The study was performed in euvolaemic, conscious Wistar rats, aged 5 and 18 months. Renal function and haemodynamic measurements with fluorescent microspheres were employed to assess differences between groups.
Results. A first set of experiments showed that ageing rats had a reduced natriuretic and diuretic response to acetylcholine, whereas the response to sodium nitroprusside was preserved. In the same regard, a reduction of the renal functional effects of L-arginine (L-Arg) and L-glycine (L-Gly) was found in the older rats. In the ageing rats, these responses were accompanied by an enhanced effect of the L-Arg competitive analogue, NwNLA, which provoked a marked reduction of renal function. This effect of NwNLA was blocked by the simultaneous administration of a small dose of L-Arg in the ageing but not in the young rats. Systemic haemodynamic studies revealed that in ageing rats, NwNLA reduced renal blood flow and increased renal vascular resistances in a significantly higher proportion than in younger animals. However, flow to other organs, namely, brain, spleen or liver, was affected in a similar manner in both young and old rats. Ultrastructural alterations were found in endothelial cells, which might constitute the anatomical basis for the observed functional derangements.
Conclusions. The present experiments reveal that ageing is accompanied by significant differences in NO-related responses in the kidney which do not appear to affect blood flow to other organs. The response to L-Arg and L-Arg competitive analogues supports the existence of a marked dependency on NO-related mechanisms in the ageing rats, but not of a decreased baseline activity of the NO-dependent pathways.