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Atherosclerosis. 2005 Aug;181(2):215-24.

Antioxidants and endothelium protection.

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The Center for Experimental Therapeutics, Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The endothelium is a complex organ system that controls the homeostasis of the vasculature by integrating signals between the vascular wall and the vessel lumen. Under physiological conditions, it maintains a normal vascular tone and blood fluidity by elaborating a variety of factors, such as nitric oxide, prostacyclin and endothelin. However, in pathological situations the endothelium can also modify its phenotype facilitating vasoconstriction, inflammation, and thrombotic events. These abnormal responses manifest in different clinical settings, such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and occur in the absence of any morphological change of the vessel. The etiology of these altered endothelial functions is multi-factorial, and the mechanisms underlying them are complex and not yet fully elucidated. Today, there is substantial evidence that many endothelial functions are sensitive to the presence of reactive oxygen species and subsequent oxidative stress. Here, I will review the increasing number of studies showing that exogenous antioxidants can modulate the endothelium-dependent vasodilation responses, the homeostatic endothelium-leukocyte interactions, the balance between pro- and anti-thrombotic properties, and the vascular apoptotic responses. Finally, the non-antioxidant activities of some antioxidant will also be described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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