Multiple role of reactive oxygen species in the arterial wall

J Cell Biochem. 2001;82(4):674-82. doi: 10.1002/jcb.1198.


Increased oxidative stress plays an important role in vascular dysfunction and atherogenesis. Both systemic factors, such as hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia, and local factors, such as activation of macrophages and T cells, may contribute to oxidative stress. Oxidation of lipids in lipoproteins and cell membranes leads to functionally important modifications of proteins that affect their recognition by cell surface receptors and protein-protein interactions within the cell, including DNA binding. Oxidized LDL and extracellular oxidation modulate oxidation-sensitive signaling pathways, but it is not clear to what extent this results from receptor-mediated activation or from direct effects on the intracellular redox-balance. Extensive evidence indicates that reactive oxygen species (ROS) regulate gene expression by modulating a large number of transcription factors, including the nuclear transcription factor kappa B (NFkappaB), the peroxisome proliferator activated receptorgamma (PPARgamma), and pathways linked to apoptosis. It is also increasingly recognized that cell differentiation and proliferation, cytokine expression, and programmed cell death are determined by the interactions between oxidation-sensitive regulatory pathways previously thought to lead to distinct outcomes. Because hypercholesterolemia exerts pro-oxidant effects both intra- and extracellularly and because increased ROS formation affects vascular reactivity and atherogenesis by modulating multiple signaling pathways and transcriptional events, future investigations of its atherogenic mechanisms should place greater emphasis on the net effect of such modulation on the expression of a large spectrum of genes. One way of doing this will be by defining clusters of genes responding to hypercholesterolemic stimuli--or interventions with structurally unrelated antioxidants--in analogous ways, irrespective of what regulatory pathway they are controlled by. Microarray technologies that allow simultaneous assessment of large numbers of genes may provide a tool for this approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / metabolism*
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • NF-kappa B
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein