PPARα-independent effects of nitrate supplementation on skeletal muscle metabolism in hypoxia

Katie A. O'Brien, James A. Horscroft, Jules Devaux, Ross T. Lindsay, Alice Strang Steel, Anna D. Clark, Andrew Philp, Stephen D.R. Harridge, Andrew J. Murray

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Hypoxia is a feature of many disease states where convective oxygen delivery is impaired, and is known to suppress oxidative metabolism. Acclimation to hypoxia thus requires metabolic remodelling, however hypoxia tolerance may be aided by dietary nitrate supplementation. Nitrate improves tissue oxygenation and has been shown to modulate skeletal muscle tissue metabolism via transcriptional changes, including through the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα), a master regulator of fat metabolism. Here we investigated whether nitrate supplementation protects skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in hypoxia and whether PPARα is required for this effect. Wild-type and PPARα knockout (PPARα−/−) mice were supplemented with sodium nitrate via the drinking water or sodium chloride as control, and exposed to environmental hypoxia (10% O2) or normoxia for 4 weeks. Hypoxia suppressed mitochondrial respiratory function in mouse soleus, an effect partially alleviated through nitrate supplementation, but occurring independently of PPARα. Specifically, hypoxia resulted in 26% lower mass specific fatty acid-supported LEAK respiration and 23% lower pyruvate-supported oxidative phosphorylation capacity. Hypoxia also resulted in 24% lower citrate synthase activity in mouse soleus, possibly indicating a loss of mitochondrial content. These changes were not seen, however, in hypoxic mice when supplemented with dietary nitrate, indicating a nitrate dependent preservation of mitochondrial function. Moreover, this was observed in both wild-type and PPARα−/− mice. Our results support the notion that nitrate supplementation can aid hypoxia tolerance and indicate that nitrate can exert effects independently of PPARα.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date25 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Muscle
  • Metabolism
  • Hypoxia
  • Nitric oxide
  • Fatty acids


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