Trimethylamine-N-oxide: a carnitine-derived metabolite that prolongs the hypertensive effect of angiotensin II in rats

Can J Cardiol. 2014 Dec;30(12):1700-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2014.09.010. Epub 2014 Sep 21.


Background: Recent evidence suggests that an elevated plasma trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) level is associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events in humans; however, the mechanism is not clear. The aims of this study were to establish the plasma TMAO level in rats and to evaluate the effect of TMAO on arterial blood pressure (BP) and the hemodynamic effects of angiotensin II (Ang II).

Methods: Twelve-week-old, Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with telemetric transmitters, and continuous recordings of heart rate, systolic BP (SBP), and diastolic BP (DBP) were made for 7 days before and 14 days during osmotic minipump-driven subcutaneous infusion of saline (controls), TMAO, low-dose Ang II, or Ang II + TMAO. Plasma TMAO concentration was evaluated using liquid chromatography coupled with triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry.

Results: The plasma TMAO concentration in controls was 0.57 μmol/L, whereas in TMAO-infused rats it was 58 μmol/L. Neither saline nor TMAO infusion affected SBP and DBP. Infusion of Ang II significantly increased SBP and DBP for the first 5 days of infusion only. In contrast, infusion of Ang II + TMAO produced a hypertensive response that lasted until the end of the experiment. TMAO infusions did not affect body weight and motor activity.

Conclusions: We showed that physiological plasma TMAO concentration in rats was approximately 10 times lower than that reported in humans. Furthermore, the new finding of the study is that TMAO does not affect BP in normotensive animals. However, it prolongs the hypertensive effect of Ang II.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Methylamines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Oxidants / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Methylamines
  • Oxidants
  • Angiotensin II
  • trimethyloxamine