Oxidant stress in the vasculature

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 1999 Sep;1(2):156-64. doi: 10.1007/s11883-999-0012-z.


Vascular disease and vasomotor responses are largely influenced by oxidant stress. Superoxide is generated via the cellular oxidase systems, xanthine oxidase, and NADH/NADPH oxidases. Once formed, superoxides participate in a number of reactions, yielding various free radicals such as hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite, oxidized low-density lipoprotein, or hypochlorous acid. Numerous cellular antioxidant systems exist to defend against oxidant stress; glutathione and the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase are critical for maintaining the redox balance of the cell. However, the redox state is disrupted by certain vascular diseases. It appears that oxidant stress both promotes and is induced by diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and restenosis as well as by certain risk factors for coronary artery disease including hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. Once oxidant stress is invoked, characteristic pathophysiologic features ensue, namely adverse vessel reactivity, vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, macrophage adhesion, platelet activation, and lipid peroxidation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / metabolism
  • Hypercholesterolemia / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Risk Factors
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Vascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Antioxidants
  • Superoxides