Endothelial dysfunction is associated with increase in oxidative stress and low NO bioavailability. The endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) uncoupling is considered an important factor in endothelial cell oxidative stress. Under increased oxidative stress, the eNOS cofactor tetrahydrobiopterin (BH(4)) is oxidized to dihydrobiopterin, which competes with BH(4) for binding to eNOS, resulting in eNOS uncoupling and reduction in NO production. The importance of the ratio of BH(4) to oxidized biopterins versus absolute levels of total biopterin in determining the extent of eNOS uncoupling remains to be determined. We have developed a computational model to simulate the kinetics of the biochemical pathways of eNOS for both NO and O(2)(•-) production to understand the roles of BH(4) availability and total biopterin (TBP) concentration in eNOS uncoupling. The downstream reactions of NO, O(2)(•-), ONOO(-), O(2), CO(2), and BH(4) were also modeled. The model predicted that a lower [BH(4)]/[TBP] ratio decreased NO production but increased O(2)(•-) production from eNOS. The NO and O(2)(•-) production rates were independent above 1.5μM [TBP]. The results indicate that eNOS uncoupling is a result of a decrease in [BH(4)]/[TBP] ratio, and a supplementation of BH(4) might be effective only when the [BH(4)]/[TBP] ratio increases. The results from this study will help us understand the mechanism of endothelial dysfunction.
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