Zalba G, Beaumont J, San Jose G, Fortuño A, Fortuño MA, Diez J. Vascular oxidant stress: molecular mechanisms and pathophysiological implications. J Physiol Biochem 2000 Mar;56(1):57-64.
The term oxidative stress refers to a situation in which cells are exposed to excessive levels of either molecular oxygen or chemical derivatives of oxygen (ie, reactive oxygen species). Three enzyme systems produce reactive oxygen species in the vascular wall: NADH/NADPH oxidase, xanthine oxidoreductase, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Among vascular reactive oxygen species superoxide anion plays a critical role in vascular biology because it is the source for many other reactive oxygen species and various vascular cell functions. It is currently thought that increases in oxidant stress, namely excessive production of superoxide anion, are involved in the pathophysiology of endothelial dysfunction that accompanies a number of cardiovascular risk factors including hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and cigarette smoking. On the other hand, vascular oxidant stress plays a pivotal role in the evolution of clinical conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and heart failure.