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Aging Cell. 2011 Jun;10(3):429-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00679.x. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Nitrite supplementation reverses vascular endothelial dysfunction and large elastic artery stiffness with aging.

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Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.


We tested the hypothesis that short-term nitrite therapy reverses vascular endothelial dysfunction and large elastic artery stiffening with aging, and reduces arterial oxidative stress and inflammation. Nitrite concentrations were lower (P < 0.05) in arteries, heart, and plasma of old (26-28 month) male C57BL6 control mice, and 3 weeks of sodium nitrite (50 mg L(-1) in drinking water) restored nitrite levels to or above young (4-6 month) controls. Isolated carotid arteries of old control mice had lower acetylcholine (ACh)-induced endothelium-dependent dilation (EDD) (71.7 ± 6.1% vs. 93.0 ± 2.0%) mediated by reduced nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability (P < 0.05 vs. young), and sodium nitrite restored EDD (95.5 ± 1.6%) by increasing NO bioavailability. 4-Hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine 1-oxyl (TEMPOL), a superoxide dismutase (SOD) mimetic, apocynin, a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase (NADPH) inhibitor, and sepiapterin (exogenous tetrahydrobiopterin) each restored EDD to ACh in old control, but had no effect in old nitrite-supplemented mice. Old control mice had increased aortic pulse wave velocity (478 ± 16 vs. 332 ± 12 AU, P < 0.05 vs. young), which nitrite supplementation lowered (384 ± 27 AU). Nitrotyrosine, superoxide production, and expression of NADPH oxidase were ∼100-300% greater and SOD activity was ∼50% lower in old control mice (all P < 0.05 vs. young), but were ameliorated by sodium nitrite treatment. Inflammatory cytokines were markedly increased in old control mice (P < 0.05), but reduced to levels of young controls with nitrite supplementation. Short-term nitrite therapy reverses age-associated vascular endothelial dysfunction, large elastic artery stiffness, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Sodium nitrite may be a novel therapy for treating arterial aging in humans.

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