Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 1997 Jan 17;272(3):1433-6.

Reactive nitrogen intermediates promote low density lipoprotein oxidation in human atherosclerotic intima.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) may be of central importance in triggering atherosclerosis. One potential pathway involves the production of nitric oxide (NO) by vascular wall endothelial cells and macrophages. NO reacts with superoxide to form peroxynitrite (ONOO-), a potent agent of LDL oxidation in vitro. ONOO- nitrates the aromatic ring of free tyrosine to produce 3-nitrotyrosine, a stable product. To explore the role of reactive nitrogen species such as ONOO- in the pathogenesis of vascular disease, we developed a highly sensitive and specific method involving gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to quantify 3-nitrotyrosine levels in proteins. In vitro studies demonstrated that 3-nitrotyrosine was a highly specific marker for LDL oxidized by ONOO-. LDL isolated from the plasma of healthy subjects had very low levels of 3-nitrotyrosine (9 +/- 7 micromol/mol of tyrosine). In striking contrast, LDL isolated from aortic atherosclerotic intima had 90-fold higher levels (840 +/- 140 micromol/mol of tyrosine). These observations strongly support the hypothesis that reactive nitrogen species such as ONOO- form in the human artery wall and provide direct evidence for a specific reaction pathway that promotes LDL oxidation in vivo. The detection of 3-nitrotyrosine in LDL isolated from vascular lesions raises the possibility that NO, by virtue of its ability to form reactive nitrogen intermediates, may promote atherogenesis, counteracting the well-established anti-atherogenic effects of NO.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center