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Dietary nitrate facilitates an acetazolamide-induced increase in cerebral blood flow during visual stimulation

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The carbonic anhydrase (CA) inhibitor acetazolamide (AZ) is used routinely to estimate cerebrovascular reserve capacity in patients, as it reliably increases cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, the mechanism by which AZ accomplishes this CBF increase is not entirely understood. We recently discovered that CA can produce nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite and that AZ enhances this NO production in vitro. In fact, this interaction between AZ and CA accounted for a large part of AZ's vasodilatory action, which fits well with the known vasodilatory potency of NO. The present study aimed to assess whether AZ acts similarly in vivo in the human cerebrovascular system. Hence, we increased or minimized the dietary intake of nitrate in 20 healthy male participants, showed them a full-field flickering dartboard and measured their CBF response to this visual stimulus with arterial spin labeling. Doing so, we found a significant positive interaction between the dietary intake of nitrate and the CBF modulation afforded by AZ during visual stimulation. In addition, but contrary to studies conducted in elderly participants, we report no effect of nitrate intake on resting CBF in healthy human participants. The present study provides in vivo support for an enhancing effect of AZ on the NO production from nitrite catalyzed by CA in the cerebrovascular system. Furthermore our results, in combination with the results of other groups, indicate that nitrate may have significant importance to vascular function when the cerebrovascular system is challenged by age or disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014

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