Aims: Reduced bioavailability of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) is a central pathophysiological event in hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Recently, it was demonstrated that inorganic nitrate from dietary sources is converted in vivo to form nitrite, NO, and other bioactive nitrogen oxides. We tested the hypothesis that dietary inorganic nitrate supplementation may have therapeutic effects in a model of renal and cardiovascular disease.
Methods and results: Sprague-Dawley rats subjected to unilateral nephrectomy and chronic high-salt diet from 3 weeks of age developed hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, proteinuria, and histological as well as biochemical signs of renal damage and oxidative stress. Simultaneous nitrate treatment (0.1 or 1 mmol nitrate kg⁻¹ day⁻¹), with the lower dose resembling the nitrate content of a diet rich in vegetables, attenuated hypertension dose-dependently with no signs of tolerance. Nitrate treatment almost completely prevented proteinuria and histological signs of renal injury, and the cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis were attenuated. Mechanistically, dietary nitrate restored the tissue levels of bioactive nitrogen oxides and reduced the levels of oxidative stress markers in plasma (malondialdehyde) and urine (Class VI F2-isoprostanes and 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine). In addition, the increased circulating and urinary levels of dimethylarginines (ADMA and SDMA) in the hypertensive rats were normalized by nitrate supplementation.
Conclusion: Dietary inorganic nitrate is strongly protective in this model of renal and cardiovascular disease. Future studies will reveal if nitrate contributes to the well-known cardioprotective effects of a diet rich in vegetables.