PloS one

Neuronal nitric oxide synthase-rescue of dystrophin/utrophin double knockout mice does not require nNOS localization to the cell membrane.

PMID 22003386


Survival of dystrophin/utrophin double-knockout (dko) mice was increased by muscle-specific expression of a neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) transgene. Dko mice expressing the transgene (nNOS TG+/dko) experienced delayed onset of mortality and increased life-span. The nNOS TG+/dko mice demonstrated a significant decrease in the concentration of CD163+, M2c macrophages that can express arginase and promote fibrosis. The decrease in M2c macrophages was associated with a significant reduction in fibrosis of heart, diaphragm and hindlimb muscles of nNOS TG+/dko mice. The nNOS transgene had no effect on the concentration of cytolytic, CD68+, M1 macrophages. Accordingly, we did not observe any change in the extent of muscle fiber lysis in the nNOS TG+/dko mice. These findings show that nNOS/NO (nitric oxide)-mediated decreases in M2c macrophages lead to a reduction in the muscle fibrosis that is associated with increased mortality in mice lacking dystrophin and utrophin. Interestingly, the dramatic and beneficial effects of the nNOS transgene were not attributable to localization of nNOS protein at the cell membrane. We did not detect any nNOS protein at the sarcolemma in nNOS TG+/dko muscles. This important observation shows that sarcolemmal localization is not necessary for nNOS to have beneficial effects in dystrophic tissue and the presence of nNOS in the cytosol of dystrophic muscle fibers can ameliorate the pathology and most importantly, significantly increase life-span.