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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2008 Dec;35(12):1488-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2008.05038.x. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

Potential role of nitric oxide in contraction-stimulated glucose uptake and mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle.

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Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


1. The present review discusses the potential role of nitric oxide (NO) in the: (i) regulation of skeletal muscle glucose uptake during exercise; and (ii) activation of mitochondrial biogenesis after exercise. 2. We have shown in humans that local infusion of an NO synthase inhibitor during exercise attenuates increases in skeletal muscle glucose uptake without affecting blood flow. Recent studies from our laboratory in rodents support these findings in humans, although rodent studies from other laboratories have yielded conflicting results. 3. There is clear evidence that NO increases mitochondrial biogenesis in non-contracting cells and that NO influences basal skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis. However, there have been few studies examining the potential role of NO in the activation of mitochondrial biogenesis following an acute bout of exercise or in response to exercise training. Early indications are that NO is not involved in regulating the increase in mitochondrial biogenesis that occurs in response to exercise. 4. Exercise is considered the best prevention and treatment option for diabetes, but unfortunately many people with diabetes do not or cannot exercise regularly. Alternative therapies are therefore critical to effectively manage diabetes. If skeletal muscle NO is found to play an important role in regulating glucose uptake and/or mitochondrial biogenesis, pharmaceutical agents designed to mimic these effects of exercise may improve glycaemic control.

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