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Neuromuscul Disord. 2001 Sep;11(6-7):517-24.

Nitric oxide: biologic effects on muscle and role in muscle diseases.

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  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Nitric oxide is a ubiquitous cell-signaling molecule involved in regulation of numerous homeostatic mechanisms and in mediation of tissue injury. Nitric oxide influences contraction, blood flow, and metabolism, as well as myogenesis. Nitric oxide exerts its influence by activation of guanylate cyclase and nitrosylation of proteins, which include glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, the ryanodine receptor and actomyosin ATPase. Skeletal muscle expresses all three isoforms of the nitric oxide synthase, including a muscle-specific splice variant; expression of the isoforms is fiber-type specific and influenced by age and disease. Nitric oxide produced with certain systemic conditions and local inflammation is likely toxic to skeletal muscle, either directly or in reactions with oxygen-derived radicals. Although nitric oxide impacts on many functions in muscle, its effects are subtle, and much work remains to be done to determine its importance in the pathogenesis of muscle diseases.

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