Skeletal muscle as an endogenous nitrate reservoir
Barbora Piknova Nitric Oxide Volume 47, 1 May 2015, Pages 10–16
• Skeletal muscle is the major endogenous nitrate source and reservoir in mammals.
• Blood serve as a transporter for nitrate from muscle into internal organs.
• Internal organs have active nitrate reductases and are source of body nitrite.
The nitric oxide synthase (NOS) family of enzymes form nitric oxide (NO) from arginine in the presence of oxygen. At reduced oxygen availability NO is also generated from nitrate in a two step process by bacterial and mammalian molybdopterin proteins, and also directly from nitrite by a variety of five-coordinated ferrous hemoproteins. The mammalian NO cycle also involves direct oxidation of NO to nitrite, and both NO and nitrite to nitrate by oxy-ferrous hemoproteins. The liver and blood are considered the sites of active mammalian NO metabolism and nitrite and nitrate concentrations in the liver and blood of several mammalian species, including human, have been determined. However, the large tissue mass of skeletal muscle had not been generally considered in the analysis of the NO cycle, in spite of its long-known presence of significant levels of active neuronal NOS (nNOS or NOS1).
We hypothesized that skeletal muscle participates in the NO cycle and, due to its NO oxidizing heme protein, oxymyoglobin has high concentrations of nitrate ions. We measured nitrite and nitrate concentrations in rat and mouse leg skeletal muscle and found unusually high concentrations of nitrate but similar levels of nitrite, when compared to the liver. The nitrate reservoir in muscle is easily accessible via the bloodstream and therefore nitrate is available for transport to internal organs where it can be reduced to nitrite and NO. Nitrate levels in skeletal muscle and blood in nNOS−/− mice were dramatically lower when compared with controls, which support further our hypothesis. Although the nitrate reductase activity of xanthine oxidoreductase in muscle is less than that of liver, the residual activity in muscle could be very important in view of its total mass and the high basal level of nitrate.
We suggest that skeletal muscle participates in overall NO metabolism, serving as a nitrate reservoir, for direct formation of nitrite and NO, and for determining levels of nitrate in other organs.