Direct measurement of actual levels of nitric oxide (NO) in cell culture conditions using soluble NO donors

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© 2016 The Authors. Applying soluble nitric oxide (NO) donors is the most widely used method to expose cells of interest to exogenous NO. Because of the complex equilibria that exist between components in culture media, the donor compound and NO itself, it is very challenging to predict the dose and duration of NO cells actually experience. To determine the actual level of NO experienced by cells exposed to soluble NO donors, we developed the CellNO Trap, a device that allows continuous, real-time monitoring of the level of NO adherent cells produce and/or experience in culture without the need to alter cell culturing procedures. Herein, we directly measured the level of NO that cells grown in the CellNO Trap experienced when soluble NO donors were added to solutions in culture wells and we characterized environmental conditions that effected the level of NO in in vitro culture conditions. Specifically, the dose and duration of NO generated by the soluble donors S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), S-nitrosocysteine (CysNO) and the diazeniumdiolate diethyltriamine (DETA/NO) were investigated in both phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and cell culture media. Other factors that were studied that potentially affect the ultimate NO level achieved with these donors included pH, presence of transition metals (ion species), redox level, presence of free thiol and relative volume of media. Then murine smooth muscle cell (MOVAS) with different NO donors but with the same effective concentration of available NO were examined and it was demonstrated that the cell proliferation ratio observed does not correlate with the half-lives of NO donors characterized in PBS, but does correlate well with the real-time NO profiles measured under the actual culture conditions. This data demonstrates the dynamic characteristic of the NO and NO donor in different biological systems and clearly illustrates the importance of tracking individual NO profiles under the actual biological conditions.

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Redox Biology