Significance: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a critical role in vascular disease. While there are many possible sources of ROS, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidases play a central role. They are a source of "kindling radicals," which affect other enzymes, such as nitric oxide synthase endothelial nitric oxide synthase or xanthine oxidase. This is important, as risk factors for atherosclerosis (hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking) regulate the expression and activity of NADPH oxidases in the vessel wall.
Recent advances: There are seven isoforms in mammals: Nox1, Nox2, Nox3, Nox4, Nox5, Duox1 and Duox2. Nox1, Nox2, Nox4, and Nox5 are expressed in endothelium, vascular smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, or perivascular adipocytes. Other homologues have not been found or are expressed at very low levels; their roles have not been established. Nox1/Nox2 promote the development of endothelial dysfunction, hypertension, and inflammation. Nox4 may have a role in protecting the vasculature during stress; however, when its activity is increased, it may be detrimental. Calcium-dependent Nox5 has been implicated in oxidative damage in human atherosclerosis.
Critical issues: NADPH oxidase-derived ROS play a role in vascular pathology as well as in the maintenance of normal physiological vascular function. We also discuss recently elucidated mechanisms such as the role of NADPH oxidases in vascular protection, vascular inflammation, pulmonary hypertension, tumor angiogenesis, and central nervous system regulation of vascular function and hypertension.
Future directions: Understanding the role of individual oxidases and interactions between homologues in vascular disease is critical for efficient pharmacological regulation of vascular NADPH oxidases in both the laboratory and clinical practice.