The aim of this study was to evaluate the involvement of nitric oxide (NO) system damage in the deleterious effects of high-fructose intake in rats. Fructose was administered as 10% solution in drinking water to twelve-week-old male Wistar rats for the period of 8 weeks. Blood pressure was measured by tail-cuff plethysmography. After sacrificing the rats at the end of the treatment, relative weights of heart and liver and biochemical parameters in blood plasma were determined. Reactivity of isolated conduit arteries was measured using a force-displacement transducer for recording isometric tension. Fructose drinking rats had increased blood pressure and impaired acetylcholine-induced relaxation of the thoracic aorta in comparison with control rats drinking just tap water. Relative liver weight and plasma concentrations of glucose and triglycerides were also elevated after fructose administration. In a further group of Wistar rats, inhibition of NO production by administration of NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 40 mg/kg/day) was performed throughout fructose intake. L-NAME treatment itself induces increase in blood pressure and relative heart weight as well as impairment in arterial relaxation and contractility. However, in these rats, fructose administration did not cause further elevation of blood pressure and other abnormalities observed in rats receiving fructose without L-NAME. Our results showed that in the state of NO deficiency (induced by L-NAME administration) fructose does not induce cardiovascular and metabolic alterations which develop in rats with a functional NO system. This indicates that impairment of the NO system may participate in many of the adverse effects induced by high-fructose intake.
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