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.