The Journal of nutritional biochemistry

Treatment with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reverses endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress in experimental menopause.

PMID 23159066


Menopause is associated with endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress. In this condition, reduced n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) contribute to cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether treatment with n-3 PUFA reverses endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress in experimental menopause. Thirty female rats underwent either sham-surgery or bilateral ovariectomy or bilateral ovariectomy+oral n-3 PUFA (0.8 g kg(-1) day(-1) for 2 months). Ovariectomy caused endothelial dysfunction to acetylcholine, which was reversed by superoxide scavenger Tiron. Erythrocyte membrane lipid composition was characterized by reduced n-3 PUFA total content and omega-3 index, and by concomitant increase in n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio. Ovariectomy-related oxidative stress, demonstrated by both enhanced superoxide production and 3-nitrotyrosine expression in aorta, was associated with increased nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase subunit NOX-4 protein expression. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) functional inhibition by l-NG-nitroarginine methyl ester, protein expression and activity did not change. In ovariectomized rats, treatment with n-3 PUFA increased n-3 PUFA total content and omega-3 index and decreased n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio in erythrocyte membrane, reversed vascular oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, aortic 3-nitrotyrosine and markedly lowered NOX-4 protein expression; eNOS protein expression also increased, paralleled by reversal of inhibitory binding to Caveolin-1, while ex-vivo functional inhibition and NOS synthesis were unchanged. These findings demonstrate in vivo a therapeutic benefit of n-3 PUFA on menopause-associated endothelial dysfunction by reversal of alterations in membrane lipid composition induced by ovariectomy and by reduction of vascular oxidative stress. In this setting they also identify NOX-4 as a potential target to reduce oxidative stress-mediated vascular complications.