Roles of Oxidants, Nitric Oxide, and Asymmetric Dimethylarginine in Endothelial Function

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Vascular endothelium plays a crucial role in ensuring normal function and morphology of blood vessels, and many risk factors of atherosclerosis act via their effects on endothelial cells. However, endothelial dysfunction is induced by very different pathomechanisms. In principle, it is caused by an impaired bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO) due to an inhibited synthesis (eg, by asymmetric dimethylarginine [ADMA]) or increased consumption of formed NO (by reactive oxygen species [ROS]). ROS can be synthesized in the organism (eg, by different enzymes) or can be administered from the environment (eg, by cigarette smoking), whereas ADMA is the subject of endogenous metabolism only. Many studies have elucidated the system of pathomechanisms and targeted some as potential goals for therapeutic interventions. This review demonstrates roles of ROS, NO, ADMA, endothelin, and estrogen in endothelial function and dysfunction focusing on homocysteinemia and diabetes mellitus and provide examples for the medical treatment of endothelial dysfunction.

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