Malondialdehyde, lipofuscin and activity of antioxidant enzymes during physical exercise in patients with essential hypertension

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To clarify the role of oxidative damage in essential hypertension, levels of lipid peroxidation products (malondialdehyde and lipofuscin) and activity of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase) were examined during a short period of physical exercise.

Patients and methods

We studied 11 male patients with mild to moderate essential hypertension in World Health Organization classes I or II and 10 healthy male controls. Physical exercise was performed on a bicycle ergometer at graded intensities of 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 W/kg body weight. Plasma concentrations of lipofuscin, malondialdehyde, epinephrine, norepinephrine, insulin, free fatty acids and glucose were determined. Superoxide dismutase activity was analysed in erythrocytes and glutathione peroxidase activity in whole blood.


Concentrations of lipofuscin and malondialdehyde were significantly elevated in hypertensive patients. Superoxide dismutase activity was not different between groups, while glutathione peroxidase activity was significantly decreased in hypertensive subjects. During exercise, the concentration of malondialdehyde and antioxidant enzyme activities increased significantly in both groups. No differences were found in absolute increases between the normotensive and hypertensive subjects. The levels of glucose, insulin and free fatty acids were similar in both groups. Basal concentrations of catecholamines and also the exercise-induced increases were lower in hypertensive patients.


Our results indicate increased oxidative damage in patients with essential hypertension, which might be caused by a decrease in the activity of glutathione peroxidase. The ability of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase to respond to increased production of reactive oxygen species during a short period of physical exercise was not impaired in hypertensive subjects.

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