Vascular Dysfunction in Experimental Diabetes Is Improved by Pentaerithrityl Tetranitrate but Not Isosorbide-5-Mononitrate Therapy

  1. Andreas Daiber1
  1. 12nd Medical Clinic, Department of Cardiology, Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  2. 2Center of Thrombosis and Hemostasis, Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  3. 3Pharmacology Department, Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  4. 4Central Laboratory Animal Facility, Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  1. Corresponding author: Andreas Daiber, andreas.daiber{at}
  1. S.S. and M.O. contributed equally to this study and are co–first authors.


OBJECTIVE Diabetes is associated with vascular oxidative stress, activation of NADPH oxidase, and uncoupling of nitric oxide (NO) synthase (endothelial NO synthase [eNOS]). Pentaerithrityl tetranitrate (PETN) is an organic nitrate with potent antioxidant properties via induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). We tested whether treatment with PETN improves vascular dysfunction in the setting of experimental diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS After induction of hyperglycemia by streptozotocin (STZ) injection (60 mg/kg i.v.), PETN (15 mg/kg/day p.o.) or isosorbide-5-mononitrate (ISMN; 75 mg/kg/day p.o.) was fed to Wistar rats for 7 weeks. Oxidative stress was assessed by optical methods and oxidative protein modifications, vascular function was determined by isometric tension recordings, protein expression was measured by Western blotting, RNA expression was assessed by quantitative RT-PCR, and HO-1 promoter activity in stable transfected cells was determined by luciferase assays.

RESULTS PETN, but not ISMN, improved endothelial dysfunction. NADPH oxidase and serum xanthine oxidase activities were significantly reduced by PETN but not by ISMN. Both organic nitrates had minor effects on the expression of NADPH oxidase subunits, eNOS and dihydrofolate reductase (Western blotting). PETN, but not ISMN, normalized the expression of GTP cyclohydrolase-1, extracellular superoxide dismutase, and S-glutathionylation of eNOS, thereby preventing eNOS uncoupling. The expression of the antioxidant enzyme, HO-1, was increased by STZ treatment and further upregulated by PETN, but not ISMN, via activation of the transcription factor NRF2.

CONCLUSIONS In contrast to ISMN, the organic nitrate, PETN, improves endothelial dysfunction in diabetes by preventing eNOS uncoupling and NADPH oxidase activation, thereby reducing oxidative stress. Thus, PETN therapy may be suited to treat patients with cardiovascular complications of diabetes.


  • Received October 6, 2010.
  • Accepted July 7, 2011.

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