Nitric oxide contributes to vascular smooth muscle relaxation in contracting fast-twitch muscles

Robert W. Grange, Eiji Isotani, Kim S. Lau, Kristine E. Kamm, Paul L. Huang, James T. Stull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


During skeletal muscle contraction, NO derived from neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in skeletal muscle fibers or from endothelial cells (eNOS) may relax vascular smooth muscle contributing to functional hyperemia. To examine the relative importance of these pathways, smooth muscle myosin regulatory light chain (smRLC) phosphorylation was assessed as an index of vascular tone in isolated extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles from C57, nNOS-/-, and eNOS-/- mice. The smRLC phosphorylation (in mol phosphate per mol smRLC) in C57 resting muscles (0.12 ± 0.04) was increased 3.7-fold (0.44 ± 0.03) by phenylephrine (PE). Reversal of this increase with electrical stimulation (to 0.19 ± 0.03; P < 0.05) was partially blocked by Nω-nitro-L-arginine (NLA). In nNOS-/- EDL, the PE-induced increase in smRLC phosphorylation (0.10 ± 0.02 to 0.49 ± 0.04) was partially decreased by stimulation (0.25 ± 0.04). In eNOS-/- EDL, the control value for smRLC was increased (0.24 ± 0.04), and PE-induced smRLC phosphorylation (0.36 ± 0.06) was decreased by stimulation even in the presence of NLA (to 0.20 ± 0.02; P < 0.05). These results suggest that in addition to NO-independent mechanisms, NO derived from both nNOS and eNOS plays a role in the integrative vascular response of contracting skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-44
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Exercise hyperemia
  • Neuronal nitric oxide synthase
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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