Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) of the brachial artery assessed by high-resolution ultrasound is widely used to measure endothelial function. However, the technique is not standardized, with different groups using occlusion of either the wrist or the upper arm to induce increased blood flow. The validity of the test as a marker of endothelial function rests on the assumption that the dilatation observed is endothelium-dependent and mediated by nitric oxide (NO). We sought to compare the NO component of brachial artery dilatation observed following wrist or upper arm occlusion. Dilatation was assessed before and during intra-arterial infusion of the NO synthase inhibitor N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) following occlusion of (i) the wrist (distal to ultrasound probe) and (ii) the upper arm (proximal to ultrasound probe) for 5 min in ten healthy males. Dilatation was significantly greater after upper arm occlusion (upper arm, 11.62+/-3.17%; wrist, 7.25+/-2.49%; P=0.003). During L-NMMA infusion, dilatation after wrist occlusion was abolished (from 7.25+/-2.49% to 0.16+/-2.24%; P<0.001), whereas dilatation after upper arm occlusion was only partially attenuated (from 11.62+/-3.17% to 7.51+/-2.34%; P=0.006). The peak flow stimulus was similar after wrist and upper arm occlusion. We conclude that dilatation following upper arm occlusion is greater than that observed after wrist occlusion, despite a similar peak flow stimulus. L-NMMA infusion revealed that FMD following wrist occlusion is mediated exclusively by NO, while dilatation following upper arm occlusion comprises a substantial component not mediated by NO, most probably related to tissue ischaemia around the brachial artery. FMD following wrist occlusion may be a more valid marker of endothelial function than dilatation following upper arm occlusion.
Background-Homocysteine is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), although a causal relation remains to be proven. The importance of determining direct causality rests in the fact that plasma homocysteine can be safely and inexpensively reduced by 25% with folic acid. This reduction is maximally achieved by doses of 0.4 mg/d. High-dose folic acid (5 mg/d) improves endothelial function in CAD, although the mechanism is controversial. It has been proposed that improvement occurs through reduction in total (tHcy) or free (non-protein bound) homocysteine (fHcy). We investigated the effects of folic acid on endothelial function before a change in homocysteine in patients with CAD. Methods and Results-A randomized, placebo-controlled study of folic acid (5 mg/d) for 6 weeks was undertaken in 33 patients. Endothelial function, assessed by flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), was measured before, at 2 and 4 hours after the first dose of folic acid, and after 6 weeks of treatment. Plasma folate increased markedly by 1 hour (200 compared with 25.8 nmol/L; PϽ0.001). FMD improved at 2 hours (83 compared with 47 m; PϽ0.001) and was largely complete by 4 hours (101 compared with 51 m; PϽ0.001). tHcy did not significantly differ acutely (4-hour tHcy, 9.56 compared with 9.79 mol/L; PϭNS). fHcy did not differ at 3 hours but was slightly reduced at 4 hours (1.55 compared with 1.78 mol/L; Pϭ0.02). FMD improvement did not correlate with reductions in either fHcy or tHcy at any time. Conclusions-These data suggest that folic acid improves endothelial function in CAD acutely by a mechanism largely independent of homocysteine.
Oxidative stress is increased in ischemic and nonischemic CHF, and neutrophils may be an important cause. Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress, increases FMD and, when given long term, decreases neutrophil O2- generation, but the lack of a correlation between changes in endothelial function and oxidative stress with vitamin C implies possible additional non-antioxidant benefits of vitamin C.
Objectives: Controversy persists with regard to the atherogenic risk associated with adult growth hormone deficiency (GHD). Endothelial dysfunction and enhanced oxidative stress are early features of atherogenesis. Therefore, we have studied the effect of three months of low dose GH replacement therapy (0.03 IU/kg/day) on these parameters in GHD adults. Subjects and Methods: Eight hypopituitary GHD adults (4 male, 4 female), who were receiving conventional hormone replacement therapy, were studied before and after 3 months of GH replacement (0.03 IU/kg/day). All observations obtained were compared with similar measurements made in 8 matched control subjects. All study subjects were non-smokers, normotensive and gave no personal or family history of premature vascular disease. Endothelial function was assessed using a specialised vessel wall tracking system to measure endothelium-dependent, flow-mediated, brachial artery dilatation (FMD). Measurements were repeated following glyceryl-trinitrate (GTN) (endotheliumindependent dilatation). Oxidative stress was assessed by directly measuring lipid-derived free radicals in venous blood by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Fasting lipids, insulin, plasma glucose and IGF-I were also measured at baseline and following GH replacement. Results: FMD, expressed as a percentage change from resting base-line diameter, was significantly impaired in the pre-treatment GHD patients compared with controls (3.1 Ϯ 2.1% vs 6.1 Ϯ 0.9%, P < 0.001; means Ϯ S.D.) indicating endothelial dysfunction. Significant increase in FMD was noted following GH therapy (3.1 Ϯ 2.1% vs 6.5 Ϯ 1.9%, P < 0.001). Free radicals (arbitrary units) were elevated in the pre-treatment GHD patients compared with controls (0.36 Ϯ 0.09 vs 0.11 Ϯ 0.12, P < 0.05) and fell significantly following GH therapy (0.23 Ϯ 0.03 vs 0.36 Ϯ 0.09, P < 0.05), although they remained elevated compared with controls. Fasting insulin was significantly higher (25.9 Ϯ 18.8 vs 13.9 Ϯ 6.7 mu/l, P < 0.05) and IGF-I concentrations lower (10.8 Ϯ 4.7 vs 20.2 Ϯ 6.3 nmol/l, P < 0.05) in the pre-treatment GHD subjects. After treatment there were no changes in insulin concentration, although IGF-I levels were normalised (10.8 Ϯ 2.3 vs 23.6 Ϯ 11.4 nmol/l, P < 0.05). Conclusions: Endothelial dysfunction and enhanced oxidative stress are features of adult GHD. This study suggests plausible mechanisms underlying any proatherogenic tendency in adult GHD and demonstrates improvement of these factors following GH replacement.
Abstract-Homocysteine is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). Folic acid lowers homocysteine and may improve endothelial function in CAD, although the mechanism is unclear. We investigated the effect of folic acid on endothelial function, homocysteine, and oxidative stress in patients with CAD. We also examined the acute effect of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), the principal circulating folate, on endothelial function in vivo and on intracellular superoxide in cultured endothelial cells. A randomized crossover study of folic acid (5 mg daily) for 6 weeks was undertaken in 52 patients with CAD. Ten further patients were given intra-arterial 5-MTHF. Endothelial function was assessed by flow-mediated dilatation (FMD). Folic acid increased plasma folate (PϽ0.001), lowered homocysteine by 19% (PϽ0.001), and improved FMD (PϽ0.001). FMD improvement did not correlate with homocysteine reduction. Malondialdehyde and total plasma antioxidant capacity, markers of oxidative stress, were unchanged. 5-MTHF acutely improved FMD (PϽ0.001) without altering homocysteine (Pϭ0.47). In vitro, 5-MTHF abolished homocysteineinduced intracellular superoxide increase (PϽ0.001); this effect was also observed with folic acid and tetrahydrobiopterin. Our data support the beneficial effect of folic acid on endothelial function in CAD but suggest that the mechanism is independent of homocysteine. Reduction of intracellular endothelial superoxide may have contributed to the effect.
Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is associated with elevated plasma angiotensin II (Ang II) levels and endothelial dysfunction. The relationship between Ang II and endothelial dysfunction remains unknown, however, but it may involve an alteration in endothelial cell redox state. We therefore investigated the effect of Ang II on NADH/NADPH oxidase-mediated superoxide anion (O(2)(-)) production by cultured guinea pig coronary microvascular endothelial cells (CMVEs) and CMVEs freshly isolated from a guinea pig, pressure-overload model of LVH. Lucigenin chemiluminescence was used to measure O(2)(-) production in the particulate fraction of CMVE lysates. In cultured cells, incubation with Ang II (0.1 nmol/L to 1 micromol/L for 18 hours) resulted in significant (P<0.01) increases in both NADH- and NADPH-dependent O(2)(-) production, with a peak effect at 1 nmol/L. The latter was significantly (P<0.01) inhibited by the AT(1) receptor antagonist losartan (1 micromol/L for 18 hours). In contrast, the O(2)(-) response to Ang II (0.1 nmol/L to 1 micromol/L for 18 hours) was largely unaffected by concomitant exposure to the AT(2) antagonist PD 123319 (1 micromol/L). In freshly isolated CMVEs from nonoperated animals, NADH- and NADPH-dependent O(2)(-) production was not different from that in sham-operated animals but was significantly (P<0.05) elevated in the aortic-banded animals. Plasma Ang II levels were significantly (P<0.001) elevated in the aortic-banded (1.25+/-0.12 microg/L, n=12) compared with sham-operated animals (0.63+/-0.06 microg/L, n=12). These data suggest that the endothelial dysfunction associated with LVH may be due, at least in part, to the Ang II-induced upregulation of NADH/NADPH oxidase-dependent O(2)(-) production.
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