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Nitric oxide is emerging as an important modulator of many physiological processes including olfaction, yet the function of this gas in the processing of olfactory information remains poorly understood. In the antennal lobe of the moth, Manduca sexta, nitric oxide is produced in response to odor stimulation, and many interneurons express soluble guanylyl cyclase, a well-characterized nitric oxide target. We used intracellular recording and staining coupled with pharmacological manipulation of nitric oxide and soluble guanylyl cyclase to test the hypothesis that nitric oxide modulates odor responsiveness in olfactory interneurons through soluble guanylyl cyclase-dependent pathways. Nitric oxide synthase inhibition resulted in pronounced effects on the resting level of firing and the responses to odor stimulation in most interneurons. Effects ranged from bursting to strong attenuation of activity and were often accompanied by membrane depolarization coupled with a change in input resistance. Blocking nitric oxide activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase signaling mimicked the effects of nitric oxide synthase inhibitors in a subset of olfactory neurons, while other cells were differentially affected by this treatment. Together, these results suggest that nitric oxide is required for proper olfactory function, and likely acts through soluble guanylyl cyclase-dependent and -independent mechanisms in different subsets of neurons.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Comparative Physiology A, volume 193, issue 7, in 2007 following peer review. The final publication may differ and is available at Springer via

A free-to-read copy of the final published article is available here.

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