Tetrahydrobiopterin, but not L-arginine, decreases NO synthase uncoupling in cells expressing high levels of endothelial NO synthase.

Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Institute and Graduate School of Biomembranes, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Hypertension (Impact Factor: 7.63). 01/2006; 47(1):87-94. DOI: 10.1161/01.HYP.0000196735.85398.0e
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) produces superoxide when depleted of (6R)-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-L-biopterin (BH4) and L-arginine by uncoupling the electron flow from NO production. High expression of eNOS has been reported to have beneficial effects in atherosclerotic arteries after relatively short periods of time. However, sustained high expression of eNOS may have disadvantageous vascular effects because of uncoupling. We investigated NO and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in a microvascular endothelial cell line (bEnd.3) with sustained high eNOS expression and absent inducible NOS and neuronal NOS expression using 4,5-diaminofluorescein diacetate and diacetyldichlorofluorescein as probes, respectively. Unstimulated cells produced both NO and ROS. After stimulation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), NO and ROS production increased. VEGF-induced ROS production was even further increased by the addition of extra L-arginine. Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester decreased ROS production. These findings strongly suggest that eNOS is a source of ROS in these cells. Although BH4 levels were increased as compared with another endothelial cell line, eNOS levels were >2 orders of magnitude higher. The addition of BH4 resulted in increased NO production and decreased generation of ROS, indicating that bEnd.3 cells produce ROS through eNOS uncoupling because of relative BH4 deficiency. Nevertheless, eNOS-dependent ROS production was not completely abolished by the addition of BH4, suggesting intrinsic superoxide production by eNOS. This study indicates that potentially beneficial sustained increases in eNOS expression and activity could lead to eNOS uncoupling and superoxide production as a consequence. Therefore, sustained increases of eNOS or VEGF activity should be accompanied by concomitant supplementation of BH4.

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