Oxidative stress contributes to sex differences in angiotensin II-mediated hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Jan 15;302(2):R274-82. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00546.2011. Epub 2011 Nov 2.


NADPH oxidase has been implicated in ANG II-induced oxidative stress and hypertension in males; however, the contribution of oxidative stress to ANG II hypertension in females is unknown. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that greater antioxidant capacity in female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) blunts ANG II-induced oxidative stress and hypertension relative to males. Whole body and renal cortical oxidative stress levels were assessed in female and male SHR left untreated or following 2 wk of chronic ANG II infusion. Chronic ANG II infusion increased NADPH oxidase enzymatic activity in the renal cortex of both sexes; however, this increase only reached significance in female SHR. In contrast, male SHR demonstrated a greater increase in all measurements of reactive oxygen species production in response to chronic ANG II infusion. ANG II infusion increased plasma superoxide dismutase activity only in female SHR (76 ± 9 vs. 190 ± 7 Units·ml(-1)·mg(-1), P < 0.05); however, cortical antioxidant capacity was unchanged by ANG II in either sex. To assess the functional implication of alterations in NADPH enzymatic activity and oxidative stress levels following ANG II infusion, additional experiments assessed the ability of the in vivo antioxidant apocynin to modulate ANG II hypertension. Apocynin significantly blunted ANG II hypertension in male SHR (174 ± 2 vs. 151 ± 1 mmHg, P < 0.05), with no effect in females (160 ± 11 vs. 163 ± 10 mmHg). These data suggest that ANG II hypertension in male SHR is more dependent on increases in oxidative stress than in female SHR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / metabolism*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred SHR
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Angiotensin II