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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 May;92(5):2005-11.

Involvement of nitric oxide synthase in skeletal muscle adaptation to chronic overload.

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Department of Kinesiology, Texas Woman's University, Denton 76201, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the necessity of nitric oxide (NO) for hypertrophy and fiber-type transition in overloaded (OL) skeletal muscle. Endogenous NO production was blocked by administering N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 0.75 mg/ml; approximately 100 mg x kg-1 x day-1) in drinking water. Thirty-eight female Sprague-Dawley rats (approximately 250 g) were randomly divided into four groups: control-nonoverloaded (Non-OL), control-OL, L-NAME-Non-OL, and L-NAME-OL. Chronic overload of the plantaris was induced bilaterally by surgical removal of the gastrocnemius and soleus. Rats in the Non-OL groups received sham surgeries. L-NAME treatment began 24 h before surgery and continued until the rats were killed 14 days postsurgery. Although OL induced hypertrophy in both control (+76%) and L-NAME (+39%) conditions (P < 0.05), mean plantaris-to-body mass ratio in the L-NAME-OL group was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than that in the control-OL group. Microphotometric analysis of histochemically determined fiber types revealed increases in cross-sectional area (P < 0.05) for all fiber types (types I, IIA, and IIB/X) in the OL plantaris from control rats, whereas L-NAME-OL rats exhibited increases only in type I and IIB/X fibers. SDS-PAGE analysis of myosin heavy chain (MHC) composition in the plantaris indicated a significant (P < 0.05) OL effect in the control rats. Specifically, the mean proportion of type I MHC increased 6% (P < 0.05), whereas the proportion of type IIb MHC decreased approximately 9% (P < 0.05). No significant OL effects on MHC profile were observed in the L-NAME rats. These data support a role of NO in overload-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy and fiber-type transition.

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