Nitric oxide synthase inhibitors reduce sarcomere addition in rat skeletal muscle

J Physiol. 1999 Aug 15;519 Pt 1(Pt 1):189-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.1999.0189o.x.


1. Mechanical stimuli are thought to modulate the number of sarcomeres in series (sarcomere number) in skeletal muscle fibres. However, the mechanisms by which muscle cells transduce mechanical signals into serial sarcomere addition have not been explored. In this study, we test the hypothesis that nitric oxide positively modulates sarcomere addition. 2. The soleus muscle was cast-immobilized in a shortened position in 3-week-old female Wistar rats. After 4 weeks, the casts were removed, creating a period of rapid sarcomere addition. During the remobilization period, nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors or substrate were administered. 3. Rats treated with the non-isoform-specific NOS inhibitor L-nitro-arginine methyl ester during 3 weeks of remobilization had smaller soleus sarcomere numbers than control rats. Rats treated with 1-(2-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-imidazole, which has greater specificity for the neuronal isoform than for the endothelial isoform of NOS, also had smaller soleus sarcomere numbers than control rats. These results suggest that inhibition of the neuronal isoform of NOS reduces sarcomere addition during remobilization. 4. Rats treated with L-arginine, the substrate for NOS, during 1 week of remobilization had soleus sarcomere numbers for the immobilized-remobilized muscle which were closer to that for the contralateral, non-immobilized muscle than did rats that were not treated with L-arginine. 5. These results support the hypothesis that nitric oxide derived from the neuronal isoform of NOS positively modulates sarcomere addition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Hydroxyproline / analysis
  • Immobilization
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / pharmacology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Organ Size
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sarcomeres / drug effects
  • Sarcomeres / physiology*
  • Sarcomeres / ultrastructure


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Hydroxyproline
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester