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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Oct;97(4):1268-74. Epub 2004 May 28.

Age-related alterations in NOS and oxidative stress in mesenteric arteries from male and female rats.

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Medical College of Georgia, Vascular Biology Center, 1459 Laney-Walker Blvd., Augusta, GA 30912, USA.


Epidemiological evidence suggests that advancing age affects the cardiovascular system of men and women differently. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the effects of aging on nitric oxide synthase (NOS), oxidative stress, and vascular function are different in males and females. Mesenteric arteries from young (3 mo) and old (24 mo) male and female Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats were studied. Western blot analysis and NOS activity were performed on the homogenized mesenteric arterial bed separated into cytosolic and membrane-associated fractions. Plasma 8-isoprostane measurements assessed oxidative stress. Vascular reactivity was determined by using a wire myograph in the absence and presence of a NOS inhibitor, N(omega)-nitro-l-arginine, to examine endothelial function and basal and stimulated nitric oxide release. In additional arteries, reactivity was performed in the presence of polyethylene glycol-SOD to assess the impact of superoxide on vascular function. Among females, aging was associated with a decline in membrane-associated NOS activity and membrane-associated NOS III protein expression. Advancing age in males was associated with increased cytosolic NOS III protein expression. Among both males and females, advancing age resulted in increased oxidative stress. Vascular function was maintained with age in arteries from both males and females, and there was no difference in either basal or stimulated nitric oxide release with age. Despite sex-specific effects of advancing age on the NOS system and increases in markers of oxidative stress, vascular function is maintained in mesenteric arteries from aged Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats. These data suggest that age-related alterations in the resistance vasculature are complex and likely involve multiple compensating vasoactive pathways.

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