Endothelial dysfunction due to eNOS uncoupling: molecular mechanisms as potential therapeutic targets

Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2023 Mar 9;28(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s11658-023-00423-2.


Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the most important molecules released by endothelial cells, and its antiatherogenic properties support cardiovascular homeostasis. Diminished NO bioavailability is a common hallmark of endothelial dysfunction underlying the pathogenesis of the cardiovascular disease. Vascular NO is synthesized by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) from the substrate L-arginine (L-Arg), with tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) as an essential cofactor. Cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, aging, or smoking increase vascular oxidative stress that strongly affects eNOS activity and leads to eNOS uncoupling. Uncoupled eNOS produces superoxide anion (O2-) instead of NO, thus becoming a source of harmful free radicals exacerbating the oxidative stress further. eNOS uncoupling is thought to be one of the major underlying causes of endothelial dysfunction observed in the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. Here, we discuss the main mechanisms of eNOS uncoupling, including oxidative depletion of the critical eNOS cofactor BH4, deficiency of eNOS substrate L-Arg, or accumulation of its analog asymmetrical dimethylarginine (ADMA), and eNOS S-glutathionylation. Moreover, potential therapeutic approaches that prevent eNOS uncoupling by improving cofactor availability, restoration of L-Arg/ADMA ratio, or modulation of eNOS S-glutathionylation are briefly outlined.

PMID:36890458 | PMC:PMC9996905 | DOI:10.1186/s11658-023-00423-2


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