Alpha-tocopherol pretreatment improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in aortic strips of young and aging rats exposed to oxidative stress
Abstract Acetylcholine-induced, endothelium-dependent relaxation of norepinephrine-precontracted aortic strips, was severely impaired after exposure to a hypoxanthine/xanthine oxidase reaction generating oxygen radicals. This effect was more evident in aortic strips of aging rats (24 months old) in comparison to young rats (3 months old). The addition of authentic ·NO (1 μM) completely relaxed aortic strips exposed to oxidative stress both in young and aging rats. In vitro EPR measurements showed that the ·NO signal was reduced by enzymatic O 2 -generating reaction. The activity of a partial purified preparation of constitutive NO synthase from rat cerebellum was significantly decreased after exposure to exogenous oxygen radicals. Pretreatment of aortic strips with 100 μM alpha-tocopherol-phosphate, produced a significant improvement of acetylcholine-dependent relaxation in the aortic strips exposed to oxidative stress, particularly in the aged vessel. The content of malondialdehyde in aortic tissue did not change after oxidative stress or alpha-tocopherol pretreatment. Alpha-tocopherol was unable to recover the NO synthase activity depressed in vitro by hypoxanthine/xanthine oxidase reaction. This study confirms that an oxidative stress impairs the endothelium-mediated vasodilation. Alpha-tocopherol pretreatment protects the vessel against this damage. The mechanism of action of alpha-tocopherol is unknown, but seems unrelated to an antioxidant activity.
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