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Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2005 Jul;3(3):231-46.

Oxidative-nitrosative stress in hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, San Juan, USA.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are important signaling molecules in the vasculature. However, when there is imbalance between their occurrence and antioxidant defense mechanisms, ROS can contribute to the vascular abnormalities that lead to hypertension. Evidence accumulated in the last decade strongly supports the notion that ROS are generated in the vasculature mainly by NAD(P)H oxidase in a mechanism that is angiotensin II-dependent. Activation of this enzyme leads to superoxide production and uncouples endothedial NO synthase (eNOS), which sustains oxidative stress while increasing the levels of tissue-damaging peroxynitrite. The latter can result in vascular dysfunction. NAD(P)H-dependent ROS formation, in particular H(2)O(2), could also contribute to vascular injury by sustaining NAD(P)H oxidase activation, promoting inflammatory gene expression, extracellular matrix reorganization, and growth (hypertrophy/hyperplasia) of vascular smooth muscle cells. The effect of ROS appears to be mediated by redox-sensitive targets such as tyrosine kinases and phosphatases, mitogen-activated protein kinases, transcription factors, matrix metalloproteinases, peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-alpha, poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase-1, Ca(2+) signaling mechanisms and secreted factors such as cyclophilin A and heat shock protein 90-alpha. Redox-sensitive targets appear to play a central role in normal vascular function, but can also lead to remodeling of the vascular wall, increasing vascular reactivity and hypertension. Polymorphisms in the p22phox gene promoter could determine susceptibility to NAD(P)H-mediated oxidative stress in humans and animals with hypertension. Although ROS are strongly implicated in the etiology of hypertension, clinical trials with antioxidants are inconclusive regarding their effectiveness in treating the disease. New drugs with both antihypertensive action and antioxidant properties (Celiprolol, Carvedilol) offer promising results in the management of hypertension.

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