- We have examined the effects of isotonic hypovolemia on the expression of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) gene in the paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic nuclei (SON) of the rat, using in situ hybridization histochemistry with a 35S-labelled oligodeoxynucleotide probe complementary to nNOS mRNA. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of polyethylene glycol (PEG) (MW 4000, 20 ml/kg body weight) dissolved in 0.9% saline (20% w/v) induced isotonic hypovolemia. The expression of the nNOS gene in the PVN and SON 6 h after i.p. administration of PEG was increased significantly in comparison with controls. The dual staining for NADPH diaphorase activity and Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-LI) showed that at 3 and 6 h after i.p. administration of PEG, a subpopulation of NADPH diaphorase-positive cells in the PVN and SON exhibited nuclear Fos-LI. These results suggest that NO in the PVN and SON may be involved in the neuroendocrine and autonomic responses to non-osmotic hypovolemia.