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Clin Transl Sci. 2011 Feb;4(1):32-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-8062.2011.00264.x.

Racial differences in oxidative stress and inflammation: in vitro and in vivo.

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Hypertension, Molecular and Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


African American race is an independent risk factor for enhanced oxidative stress and inflammation. We sought to examine whether oxidative-stress and inflammatory markers that are typically measured in humans also differ by race in cell culture. We compared levels between African American and Caucasian young adults and then separately in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) from both races. We found heightened oxidative stress and inflammation in the African Americans both in vitro and in vivo. African American HUVECs showed higher nitric oxide (NO) levels (10.8 ± 0.4 vs. 8.8 ± 0.7 μmol/L/mg, p = 0.03), Interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels (61.7 ± 4.2 vs. 23.9 ± 9.0 pg/mg, p = 0.02), and lower superoxide dismutase activity (15.6 ± 3.3 vs. 25.4 ± 2.8 U/mg, p = 0.04), and also higher protein expression (p < 0.05) of NADPH oxidase subunit p47phox, isoforms NOX2 and NOX4, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS), inducible NOS, as well as IL-6. African American adults had higher plasma protein carbonyls (1.1 ± 0.1 vs. 0.8 ± 0.1 nmol/mg, p = 0.01) and antioxidant capacity (2.3 ± 0.2 vs. 1.1 ± 0.3 mM, p = 0.01). These preliminary translational data demonstrate a racial difference in HUVECs much like that in humans, but should be interpreted with caution given its preliminary nature. It is known that racial differences exist in how humans respond to development and progression of disease, therefore these data suggest that ethnicity of cell model may be important to consider with in vitro clinical research.

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