Increased superoxide generation is associated with pulmonary hypertension in fetal lambs: A role for NADPH oxidase

Lisa A. Brennan, Robin H. Steinhorn, Stephen Wedgwood, Eugenia Mata-Greenwood, Everett A. Roark, James A. Russell, Stephen M. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


Ligation of the ductus arteriosus in utero produces pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling in fetal and newborn lambs. However, the mechanisms producing these vascular changes are not well defined. Because reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated as mediators of smooth muscle cell proliferation, we hypothesized that increased formation of ROS may be involved in the pathophysiology of pulmonary hypertension after in utero ductal ligation. Using ethidium fluorescence, we demonstrated an increase in superoxide levels after 9 days of ductal ligation compared with control lungs (P<0.05) that was localized to the adventitia and smooth muscle cells of hypertensive vessels. SOD-1 and SOD-2 protein levels and activities in lung, vein, and artery of hypertensive lambs were unchanged relative to controls after 2 days of ductal ligation. However, after 9 days, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity was significantly decreased in arteries from ligated lambs without associated changes in SOD protein expression (P<0.05). Examination of NADPH oxidase expression as a potential source of the superoxide production indicated that the levels of p67phox, a subunit of the NADPH oxidase complex, were significantly increased in the pulmonary arteries, but not veins, from the ligated lung as early as 2 days (P<0.05). Functional analyses demonstrated that reducing superoxide levels significantly increased the NO-mediated relaxation of pulmonary arteries isolated after 9 days, but not 2 days, of ductal ligation (P<0.05). These results suggest that increased NADPH oxidase expression may increase levels of superoxide in persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn lung tissue, and that increased superoxide blunts vascular relaxations to exogenous NO while stimulating smooth muscle cell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-691
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 4 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Smooth muscle
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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