Objective: We examined the vascular expression levels of extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD), a major antioxidant enzyme in the cardiovascular system, in patients with acute coronary syndromes.
Methods and results: Twenty-one consecutive patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), 14 patients with unstable angina, 11 patients with stable angina, and 20 control subjects were studied. The levels of vascular EC-SOD expression were assessed by the difference in plasma EC-SOD concentrations before and after intravenous heparan injection. In the patients with AMI, vascular EC-SOD expression (ng/mL) was significantly higher on day 1 after the onset of AMI (148+/-10) as compared with the control subjects (116+/-6, P<0.05). The vascular EC-SOD expression returned to the normal range on day 7 (104+/-8), and that level persisted thereafter. The vascular EC-SOD expression was also significantly higher in the patients with unstable angina (160+/-13) than in those with stable angina (122+/-10) or in the controls (116+/-6) (P<0.05 each). Moreover, in the patients with AMI, higher levels of vascular EC-SOD expression on day 1 were significantly associated with smaller myocardial infarct size (P<0.05).
Conclusions: This is the first clinical demonstration showing that vascular EC-SOD may be upregulated in acute coronary syndromes in humans in vivo. EC-SOD may play an important protective role against increased oxidative stress during acute ischemic coronary events.