Oxidative stress and hyperuricaemia: pathophysiology, clinical relevance, and therapeutic implications in chronic heart failure

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Heart failure (HF) is a state of chronic deterioration of oxidative mechanisms due to enhanced oxidative stress and consequent subcellular alterations. In this condition, oxidant-producing enzymes, in particular xanthine oxidase (XO), the major cardiovascular source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), are up-regulated. Growing evidence shows that this impaired oxidative metabolism due to enhanced ROS release is implicated in the development of cardiac hypertrophy, myocardial fibrosis, left ventricular remodelling, and contractility impairment responsible for worsening of cardiac function in CHF. Uric acid (UA) has long been linked with cardiovascular diseases, and hyperuricaemia is a common finding in patients with CHF. Hyperuricaemia is associated with impairment of peripheral blood flow and reduced vasodilator capacity, which relate closely to clinical status and reduced exercise capacity. Recent studies also suggest an association between UA levels and parameters of diastolic function; more importantly, UA has emerged as a strong independent prognostic factor in patients with CHF. In this review, we describe the up-to-date experimental and clinical studies that have begun to test whether the inhibition of XO translates into meaningful beneficial pathophysiological changes. This treatment gives evidence that myocardial energy, endothelial dysfunction, and vasodilator reactivity to exercise are improved by reducing markers of oxidative stress responsible for vascular dysfunction, so it represents an interesting therapeutic alternative for better outcome in CHF patients.

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