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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 31;107(35):15565-70. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1002178107. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4) is a major source of oxidative stress in the failing heart.

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Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Institute, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


NAD(P)H oxidases (Noxs) produce O(2)(-) and play an important role in cardiovascular pathophysiology. The Nox4 isoform is expressed primarily in the mitochondria in cardiac myocytes. To elucidate the function of endogenous Nox4 in the heart, we generated cardiac-specific Nox4(-/-) (c-Nox4(-/-)) mice. Nox4 expression was inhibited in c-Nox4(-/-) mice in a heart-specific manner, and there was no compensatory up-regulation in other Nox enzymes. These mice exhibited reduced levels of O(2)(-) in the heart, indicating that Nox4 is a significant source of O(2)(-) in cardiac myocytes. The baseline cardiac phenotype was normal in young c-Nox4(-/-) mice. In response to pressure overload (PO), however, increases in Nox4 expression and O(2)(-) production in mitochondria were abolished in c-Nox4(-/-) mice, and c-Nox4(-/-) mice exhibited significantly attenuated cardiac hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis and apoptosis, and better cardiac function compared with WT mice. Mitochondrial swelling, cytochrome c release, and decreases in both mitochondrial DNA and aconitase activity in response to PO were attenuated in c-Nox4(-/-) mice. On the other hand, overexpression of Nox4 in mouse hearts exacerbated cardiac dysfunction, fibrosis, and apoptosis in response to PO. These results suggest that Nox4 in cardiac myocytes is a major source of mitochondrial oxidative stress, thereby mediating mitochondrial and cardiac dysfunction during PO.

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