Reactive oxygen species: influence on cerebral vascular tone

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Feb;100(2):739-43. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01044.2005.


Reactive oxygen species have multiple effects on vascular cells. Defining the sources and the impact of the various reactive oxygen species within the vessel wall has emerged as a major area of study in vascular biology. This review will focus on recent findings related to effects of reactive oxygen species on cerebral vascular tone. Effects of superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, and the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrite are summarized. Although higher concentrations may be important for cerebral vascular biology in disease, relatively low concentrations of reactive oxygen species may function as signaling molecules involved with normal regulation of cerebral vascular tone. The mechanisms by which reactive oxygen species affect vascular tone may be quite complex, and our understanding of these processes is increasing. Additionally, the role of reactive oxygen species as mediators of endothelium-dependent relaxation is addressed. Finally, the consequences of the molecular interactions of superoxide with nitric oxide and arachidonic acid are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Isoprostanes
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Peroxynitrous Acid / metabolism
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Vasoconstriction*
  • Vasodilation*


  • Isoprostanes
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxides
  • Peroxynitrous Acid
  • Hydrogen Peroxide