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Nitrate (NO3−) ingestion has been shown to have vasoactive and ergogenic effects that have been attributed to increased nitric oxide (NO) production. Recent observations in rodents suggest that skeletal muscle tissue serves as an endogenous NO3− “reservoir.” The present study determined NO3− contents in human skeletal muscle tissue in a postabsorptive state and following ingestion of a sodium nitrate bolus (NaNO3). Seventeen male, type 2 diabetes patients (age 72 ± 1 yr; body mass index 26.5 ± 0.5 kg/m2; means ± SE) were randomized to ingest a dose of NaNO3 (NIT; 9.3 mg NO3−/kg body wt) or placebo (PLA; 8.8 mg NaCl/kg body wt). Blood and muscle biopsy samples were taken before and up to 7 h following NO3− or placebo ingestion to assess NO3− [and plasma nitrite (NO2−)] concentrations. Additionally, basal plasma and muscle NO3− concentrations were assessed in 10 healthy young (CON-Y; age 21 ± 1 yr) and 10 healthy older (CON-O; age 75 ± 1 yr) control subjects. In all groups, baseline NO3− concentrations were higher in muscle (NIT, 57 ± 7; PLA, 61 ± 7; CON-Y, 80 ± 10; CON-O, 54 ± 6 µmol/l) than in plasma (NIT, 35 ± 3; PLA, 32 ± 3; CON-Y, 38 ± 3; CON-O, 33 ± 3 µmol/l; P ≤ 0.011). Ingestion of NaNO3 resulted in a sustained increase in plasma NO3−, plasma NO2−, and muscle NO3− concentrations (up to 185 ± 25 µmol/l) in the NIT group (time effect P < 0.001) compared with PLA (treatment effect P < 0.05). In conclusion, basal NO3− concentrations are substantially higher in human skeletal muscle tissue compared with plasma. Ingestion of a bolus of dietary NO3−increases both plasma and muscle NO3− contents in humans.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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