NADPH Oxidase Overactivity Underlies Telomere Shortening in Human Atherosclerosis
Álvaro Pejenaute, Adriana Cortés, Javier Marqués, Laura Montero, Óscar Beloqui, Ana Fortuño, Amelia Martí, Josune Orbe, Guillermo Zalba
Telomere shortening and oxidative stress are involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Different studies have shown that phagocytic NADPH oxidase is associated with this disease. This study aimed to investigate the association between phagocytic NADPH oxidase and telomere shortening in human atherosclerosis. To assess this potential association, telomere length and phagocytic NADPH oxidase activity were determined by PCR and chemiluminescence, respectively, in a population of asymptomatic subjects free of overt clinical atherosclerosis. We also measured serum 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels (an index of oxidative stress) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a surrogate marker of atherosclerosis.
After adjusting them for age and sex, telomere length inversely correlated (p < 0.05) with NADPH oxidase-mediated superoxide production, with 8-OHdG values, and with carotid IMT. Interestingly, the asymptomatic subjects with plaques have a lower telomere length (p < 0.05), and higher values of plasma 8-OHdG and superoxide production (p < 0.05). These data were confirmed in a second population in which patients with coronary artery disease showed lower telomere length and higher 8-OHdG and superoxide production than the asymptomatic subjects.
In both studies, NADPH oxidase-dependent superoxide production in phagocytic cells was only due to the specific expression of the Nox2 isoform. In conclusion, these findings suggest that phagocytic NADPH oxidase may be involved in oxidative stress-mediated telomere shortening, and that this axis may be critically involved in human atherosclerosis.