Song, Wook (2003-12). Exercise training reverses age-induced inducible nitric oxide synthase upregulation. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The risk of injury, inflammation, and oxidative stress increases in skeletal muscle with aging. It has been postulated that pro-oxidant signaling, including upregulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) contributes to inflammation, pathology, and aging in the brain, liver and heart. Exercise training reduces the risk of injury and inflammation. The purpose of this study was: 1) to identify the mechanisms that upregulate iNOS, pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory signaling in skeletal muscle, and 2) to identify the mechanisms by which exercise training reduces pro-oxidant signaling. Protein levels and activity of iNOS were measured in 4 groups of male Fischer-344 rats (5 mo and 24 mo, n=10/group), old-control (OC), old-trained (OT), young-control (YC), and young-trained (YT). Exercise training protocol was 60 min at 15 m/min at 15? incline for 5 d/wk for 12 wk. Both iNOS protein expression and activity were significantly higher in OC compared to YC, but exercise training reversed the elevation of iNOS levels lower than OC in tibialis anterior. Surprisingly, NF-κB DNA binding activity was significantly lower in OC than YC, while increased with exercise training in white and red gastrocnemius in both OT and YT. In contrast, protein expression of p65, a regulatory subunit of NF-κB was significantly greater in OC than YC, while exercise training significantly reduced p65 in OT compared to OC from the white gastrocnemius. These data indicate that regulation of NF-κB activity with aging is post-translational and alterations in iNOS expression may result from alternative NF-κB pathways. As decreased NF-κB activity with aging could result in downstream increase in pro-apoptotic signaling, we tested follow-up hypotheses that aging would increase pro-apoptotic regulator Bax and decrease the anti-apoptotic regulator Bcl-2. Bax increased while Bcl-2 decreased in OC in white gastrocnemius when compared to YC. In contrast, exercise training resulted in a dramatic upregulation of Bcl-2 and downregulation of Bax protein expression in OT when compared to OC. These novel results indicate that alterations in pro-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic signaling occur in skeletal muscle during the aging process. Importantly, our findings strongly support the hypothesis that exercise training reverses age-induced changes in pro-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic signaling.

publication date

  • December 2003