Redox regulation of nitrosyl-hemoglobin in human erythrocytes

Redox Biol. 2020 Jul;34:101399. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2019.101399. Epub 2019 Dec 5.


Oxidative stress perturbs vascular homeostasis leading to endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases. Vascular reactive oxygen species (ROS) reduce nitric oxide (NO) bioactivity, a hallmark of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. We measured steady-state vascular NO levels through the quantification of heme nitrosylated hemoglobin (5-coordinate-α-HbNO) in venous erythrocytes of healthy human subjects using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. To examine how ROS may influence HbNO complex formation and stability, we identified the pro- and anti-oxidant enzymatic sources in human erythrocytes and their relative impact on intracellular redox state and steady-state HbNO levels. We demonstrated that pro-oxidant enzymes such as NADPH oxidases are expressed and produce a significant amount of ROS at the membrane of healthy erythrocytes. In addition, the steady-state levels of HbNO were preserved when NOX (e.g. NOX1 and NOX2) activity was inhibited. We next evaluated the impact of selective antioxidant enzymatic systems on HbNO stability. Peroxiredoxin 2 and catalase, in particular, played an important role in endogenous and exogenous H2O2 degradation, respectively. Accordingly, inhibitors of peroxiredoxin 2 and catalase significantly decreased erythrocyte HbNO concentration. Conversely, steady-state levels of HbNO were preserved upon supplying erythrocytes with exogenous catalase. These findings support HbNO measurements as indicators of vascular oxidant stress and of NO bioavailability and potentially, as useful biomarkers of early endothelial dysfunction.

Keywords: Endothelial dysfunction; Erythrocytes; Nitric oxide; Reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide*
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species


  • Hemoglobins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • NADPH Oxidases