Indexed on: 11 Jan '14Published on: 11 Jan '14Published in: Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Aging is the major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This is attributable primarily to adverse changes in arteries, notably, increases in large elastic artery stiffness and endothelial dysfunction mediated by inadequate concentrations of the vascular-protective molecule, nitric oxide (NO), and higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. Inorganic nitrite is a promising precursor molecule for augmenting circulating and tissue NO bioavailability because it requires only a one-step reduction to NO. Nitrite also acts as an independent signaling molecule, exerting many of the effects previously attributed to NO. Results of recent studies indicate that nitrite may be effective in the treatment of vascular aging. In old mice, short-term oral sodium nitrite supplementation reduces aortic pulse wave velocity, the gold-standard measure of large elastic artery stiffness, and ameliorates endothelial dysfunction, as indicated by normalization of NO-mediated endothelium-dependent dilation. These improvements in age-related vascular dysfunction with nitrite are mediated by reductions in oxidative stress and inflammation, and may be linked to increases in mitochondrial biogenesis and health. Increasing nitrite levels via dietary intake of nitrate appears to have similarly beneficial effects in many of the same physiological and clinical settings. Several clinical trials are being performed to determine the broad therapeutic potential of increasing nitrite bioavailability on human health and disease, including studies related to vascular aging. In summary, inorganic nitrite, as well as dietary nitrate supplementation, represents a promising therapy for treatment of arterial aging and prevention of age-associated CVD in humans.