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J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2000 Dec;36(6):751-7.

Decreased sensitivity to nitric oxide in the aorta of severely hypercholesterolemic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.

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  • 1Vascular Biology Unit, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, Massachusetts, USA.


A normal response to nitric oxide donors has been cited as evidence that impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation during hypercholesterolemia is due to decreased synthesis of nitric oxide. This tenet was examined by determining responses to nitric oxide gas as well as to acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside in the isolated aorta of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice fed normal or Western-type cholesterol-rich diet until 21 or 35 weeks of age. In mice fed normal chow, relaxation to all agents remained comparable to that obtained in wild-type mice. In mice fed Western diet, the relaxation to acetylcholine as well as to nitric oxide was decreased at 35 weeks of age. At 21 weeks of age, decreased sensitivity to nitric oxide was observed despite a normal response to acetylcholine. The response to sodium nitroprusside was normal in all groups. A decrease in aortic superoxide dismutase activity as well as an increase in aortic superoxide anion generated in the presence of NADH as measured by lucigenin chemiluminescence was observed in the group fed Western diet at 35 weeks. This provides evidence that altered superoxide anion could contribute to the deterioration in nitric oxide sensitivity that underlies the impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation. These data indicate that decreased sensitivity to nitric oxide may contribute to the development of impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in hypercholesterolemia. The response to sodium nitroprusside appears not to reflect the decreased sensitivity of vascular smooth muscle to authentic nitric oxide.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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