Nitric oxide treatment attenuates muscle atrophy during hind limb suspension in mice
Debilitating muscle-disuse atrophy in aging or obesity has huge socioeconomic impact. Since nitric oxide (NO) mediates muscle satellite cell activation and induces hypertrophy with exercise in old mice, we tested whether treatment with the NO donor, isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN), during hind limb suspension would reduce atrophy. Mice were suspended 18 days, with or without daily ISDN (66 mg/kg). Muscles were examined for atrophy (weight, fiber diameter); regulatory changes in atrogin-1 (a negative regulator of muscle mass), myostatin (inhibits myogenesis), and satellite cell proliferation; and metabolic responses in myosin heavy chains (MyHCs), liver lipid, and hypothalamic gene expression. Suspension decreased muscle weight and weight relative to body weight between 25–55%, and gastrocnemius fiber diameter vs. controls. In young-adult mice, ISDN attenuated atrophy by half or more. In quadriceps, ISDN completely prevented the suspension-induced rise in atrogin-1 and drop in myostatin precursor, and attenuated the changes in MyHCs 1 and 2b observed in unloaded muscles without treatment. Fatty liver in suspended young-adult mice was also reduced by ISDN; suspended young mice had higher hypothalamic expression of the orexigenic agouti-related protein, Agrp than controls. Notably, a suspension-induced drop in muscle satellite cell proliferation by 25–58% was completely prevented (young mice) or attenuated (halved, in young-adult mice) by ISDN. NO-donor treatment has potential to attenuate atrophy and metabolic changes, and prevent regulatory changes during disuse and offset/prevent wasting in age-related sarcopenia or space travel. Increases in precursor proliferation resulting from NO treatment would also amplify benefits of physical therapy and exercise.