Antioxidants and endothelial dysfunction in Hyperlipidemia
- Cite this article as:
- Warnholtz, A., Mollnau, H., Oelze, M. et al. Current Science Inc (2001) 3: 53. doi:10.1007/s11906-001-0081-z
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Endothelial function is abnormal in a variety of diseased states such as hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis. This may be secondary to decreased synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) and/or increased degradation of NO due to interaction with superoxide anions. More recent experimental observations demonstrate increased production of superoxide in hyperlipidemia, suggesting that endothelial dysfunction in these states is in part secondary to increased NO metabolism. Enzymes proposed to be involved in increased superoxide production may include xanthine oxidase, the NO synthase, and the NAD(P)H oxidase. Superoxide rapidly reacts with NO to form peroxynitrite (ONOO-), a highly reactive intermediate with cytotoxic properties. Despite experimental evidence for the oxidative stress concept in causing endothelial dysfunction, the results of recent randomized trials to test the influence of antioxidants on coronary event rates and prognosis in patients with coronary artery disease were very disappointing. In all of these studies the use of vitamins such as vitamin E failed to improve the prognosis. In contrast, treatment with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or cholesterollowering drugs improved endothelial dysfunction, prevented the activation of superoxide-producing enzymes in cholesterol-fed animals, reduced coronary event rates, and improved prognosis in patients with coronary artery disease. Therefore, inhibition of superoxide production at the enzymatic level rather than symptomatic superoxide scavenging may be the better choice of treatment.