Nitric oxide in skeletal muscle: Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase inhibits walking speed in rats

Min Xia Wang, Dédée F. Murrell, Csaba Szabo, Russell F. Warren, Maria Sarris, George A.C. Murrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO·) is a multifunctional messenger molecule generated by a family of enzymes called the nitric oxide synthases (NOSs). Although NOSs have been identified in skeletal muscle, specifically brain NOS (bNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS), their role has not been well clarified. The goals of this investigation were to (1) characterize the immunoreactivity, Ca2+ dependence, and activity of NOS in human and rat skeletal muscle and (2) using a rat model, investigate the effect of chronic blockade of NOS on skeletal muscle structure and function. Our results showed that both human and rodent skeletal muscle had NOS activity. This NOS activity was similar to that of the endothelial and brain NOS isoforms in that it was calcium-dependent. However, Western blot analysis consistently showed that a polyclonal antibody raised against a peptide sequence of human inducible NOS (iNOS) reacted with a protein with a molecular weight (95 kDa) that was different from that of other NOS isoforms. RT-PCR analysis identified the mRNA expression of not only eNOS and bNOS but also iNOS in human and rat muscle. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase in rats with Nw-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) resulted in a progressive, severe reduction in walking speed (30-fold reduction in walking velocity at day 22, P < 0.001), muscle fiber cross-sectional area (40% reduction at day 22, P < 0.001), and muscle mass (40% reduction in dry weight at day 22, P < 0.01). Rats fed the same regimen of the enantiomer of L-NAME (D-NAME) had normal motor function, muscle fiber morphology, and muscle mass. Taken together, these results imply that there may be a novel nitric oxide synthase in muscle and that NO· generated from muscle may be important in muscle function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalNitric Oxide - Biology and Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Free radical
  • Human muscle
  • Muscle-NOS
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research


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