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Hypertension. 2005 Jun;45(6):1107-12. Epub 2005 May 2.

Ascorbic acid selectively improves large elastic artery compliance in postmenopausal women.

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Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0354, USA.


The compliance of large elastic arteries in the cardiothoracic region decreases with advancing age/menopause and plays an important role in the increased prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in postmenopausal women. We determined whether oxidative stress contributes to the reduced large elastic artery compliance of postmenopausal women. Carotid artery compliance was measured during acute intravenous infusions of saline (baseline control) and supraphysiological doses of the potent antioxidant ascorbic acid in premenopausal (n=10; 23+/-1; mean+/-SE) and estrogen-deficient postmenopausal (n=21; 55+/-1 years) healthy sedentary women. Carotid artery compliance was 56% lower in postmenopausal compared with premenopausal women during baseline control (P<0.0001). Ascorbic acid infusion increased carotid artery compliance by 26% in postmenopausal women (1.11+/-0.07 to 1.38+/-0.08 mm2/mm Hgx10(-1); P<0.001) but had no effect in premenopausal women (2.50+/-0.25 versus 2.43+/-0.20 mm2/mm Hgx10(-1)). Carotid artery diameter, blood pressure, and heart rate were unaffected by ascorbic acid. In the pooled population, the change in arterial compliance with ascorbic acid correlated with baseline waist-to-hip ratio (r=0.56; P=0.001), plasma norepinephrine (r=0.58; P=0.001), and LDL cholesterol (r=0.54; P=0.001). These results suggest that oxidative stress may be an important mechanism contributing to the reduced large elastic artery compliance of sedentary, estrogen-deficient postmenopausal women. Increased abdominal fat storage, sympathetic nervous system activity, and LDL cholesterol may be mechanistically involved in oxidative stress-associated suppression of arterial compliance in postmenopausal women.

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