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Circ Res. 2003 Mar 21;92(5):e52-9. Epub 2003 Mar 6.

Cardiac neuronal nitric oxide synthase isoform regulates myocardial contraction and calcium handling.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Oxford University, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK.


A neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) has recently been located to the cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). Subcellular localization of a constitutive NOS in the proximity of an activating source of Ca2+ suggests that cardiac nNOS-derived NO may regulate contraction by exerting a highly specific and localized action on ion channels/transporters involved in Ca2+ cycling. To test this hypothesis, we have investigated myocardial Ca2+ handling and contractility in nNOS knockout mice (nNOS-/-) and in control mice (C) after acute nNOS inhibition with 100 micromol/L L-VNIO. nNOS gene disruption or L-VNIO increased basal contraction both in left ventricular (LV) myocytes (steady-state cell shortening 10.3+/-0.6% in nNOS-/- versus 8.1+/-0.5% in C; P<0.05) and in vivo (LV ejection fraction 53.5+/-2.7 in nNOS-/- versus 44.9+/-1.5% in C; P<0.05). nNOS disruption increased ICa density (in pA/pF, at 0 mV, -11.4+/-0.5 in nNOS-/- versus -9.1+/-0.5 in C; P<0.05) and prolonged the slow time constant of inactivation of ICa by 38% (P<0.05), leading to an increased Ca2+ influx and a greater SR load in nNOS-/- myocytes (in pC/pF, 0.78+/-0.04 in nNOS-/- versus 0.64+/-0.03 in C; P<0.05). Consistent with these data, [Ca2+]i transient (indo-1) peak amplitude was greater in nNOS-/- myocytes (410/495 ratio 0.34+/-0.01 in nNOS-/- versus 0.31+/-0.01 in C; P<0.05). These findings have uncovered a novel mechanism by which intracellular Ca2+ is regulated in LV myocytes and indicate that nNOS is an important determinant of basal contractility in the mammalian myocardium. The full text of this article is available at

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