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Keywords:

  • nitric oxide;
  • nitric oxide-selective electrode;
  • nitric oxide synthase;
  • ulcerative colitis.

Although current nitric oxide (NO) electrodes are simple, selective and sensitive, they are fragile and hard to use in clinical studies of patients. By preparing an improved NO electroneedle that overcomes these defects, we directly measured mucosal NO concentrations in 11 patients (six male, five female; mean 26.0 years old) with ulcerative colitis (UC) and five normal volunteers (three male, two female; mean 28.3 years old) in situ. An electroneedle was inserted into colonic mucosa through a biopsy channel during colonoscopy. The information concerning the concentration of NO generated and the appearances of the colonic mucosa at the same site were obtained simultaneously. In the ulcerative colitis patients, NO concentrations were significantly increased at all 24 mucosal sites tested. These included sites where: there was an absence of visible inflammation (five sites); the mucosa was mildly inflamed (eight sites); the mucosa was moderately inflamed (five sites); or severely inflamed (six sites). The NO concentrations in ulcerative colitis patients were 12–72 times higher than the NO levels in normal controls (10 sites). At the same 10 sites in four ulcerative colitis patients, the high NO concentrations were decreased by 53% after glucocorticoid treatment. These data are consistent with those of previous studies utilizing different NO electrodes. Excess mucosal NO is generated from inducible NO synthase in the inflamed mucosa itself and the invading inflammatory cells. Our results suggested that mucosal NO could be a marker for the extent of inflammation and its various actions correlated with the pathogenesis, natural history and prognosis of UC. Using the NO microelectrode system reported here, the concentration of NO generated can be monitored in real-time while observing the mucosal condition at the same site during endoscopy. This novel NO electrode may contribute to understanding the role of NO in colonic mucosal inflammation.