Association of nitrotyrosine levels with cardiovascular disease and modulation by statin therapy

JAMA. 2003 Apr 2;289(13):1675-80. doi: 10.1001/jama.289.13.1675.


Context: Formation of nitric oxide-derived oxidants may serve as a mechanism linking inflammation to development of atherosclerosis. Nitrotyrosine, a specific marker for protein modification by nitric oxide-derived oxidants, is enriched in human atherosclerotic lesions and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) recovered from human atheroma.

Objectives: To determine whether systemic levels of nitrotyrosine are associated with the prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) and are modulated by hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase inhibitor (statin) therapy.

Design, setting, and patients: A case-control and interventional study at 2 urban tertiary-care referral centers; recruitment for each was from June 1, 2001, until January 1, 2002. For the case-control study, 100 case-patients with established CAD and 108 patients with no clinically evident CAD were recruited consecutively. In the interventional study, participants aged 21 years or older with hypercholesterolemia (LDL cholesterol > or =130 mg/dL [> or =3.5 mmol/L]) underwent nutrition and exercise counseling. Those whose levels did not decrease with 6 to 8 weeks were enrolled in the study (n = 35). For 12 weeks, they received 10 mg/d of oral atorvastatin therapy.

Main outcome measures: In the case-control study, the association between systemic levels of protein-bound nitrotyrosine, CAD risk, and presence of CAD. In the interventional study, the change in nitrotyrosine, lipoprotein, and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.

Results: Nitrotyrosine levels were significantly higher among patients with CAD (median 9.1 micromol/mol [interquartile range, 4.8-13.8 micromol/mol] tyrosine vs 5.2 micromol/mol [interquartile range, 2.2-8.4 micromol/mol]; P<.001). Patients in the upper quartile of nitrotyrosine (29%; P<.001) had a higher odds of CAD compared with those in the lowest quartile (unadjusted odds ratio, 6.1; 95% confidence interval, 2.6-14.0; P<.001). In multivariate models adjusting for Framingham Global Risk Score and CRP, upper quartiles of nitrotyrosine remained associated with CAD (odds ratio, 4.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.8-10.6; P<.001). Statin therapy reduced nitrotyrosine levels significantly (25%; P<.02) with a magnitude similar to reductions in total cholesterol levels (25%; P<.001) and LDL particle number (29%; P<.001) yet were independent of alterations in lipoproteins and inflammatory markers like CRP.

Conclusions: The findings from this preliminary study indicate that nitrotyrosine levels are associated with the presence of CAD and appear to be modulated by statin therapy. These results suggest a potential role for nitric oxide-derived oxidants as inflammatory mediators in CAD and may have implications for atherosclerosis risk assessment and monitoring of anti-inflammatory actions of statins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atorvastatin
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Heptanoic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyrosine / blood*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Lipoproteins
  • Pyrroles
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Atorvastatin