Hypertension, cigarette smoking, and nicotine augment the clinical significance of other risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases by mechanisms which are poorly understood. Since altered trace element metabolism and antioxidant status have also been implicated in these diseases, the present study investigated the interaction of nicotine treatment and hypertension on tissue trace element concentrations and select indices of antioxidant status. Spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats were treated with nicotine, via a time release tablet at an average rate of 75 μg/h for 6 weeks. Systolic blood pressure in nicotine-treated SHRs was significantly higher at weeks 3 and 6 of treatment than in the SHR-controls. Blood pressure in WKY rats was not affected by nicotine. Plasma and liver iron concentrations in the nicotine-treated SHR were higher than the SHR-controls and the WKY groups. Nicotine treatment did not affect plasma and liver zinc and copper concentrations or liver manganese (Mn) concentrations. Plasma ceruloplasmin activity was increased by nicotine treatment in the SHRs. Liver Mn superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) activities and glutathione concentrations, and liver and heart glutathione reductase activities, were higher in both groups of SHRs than in the WKY groups. Red cell SOD activity in the nicotine-treated SHR was lower than in the SHR-controls. In summary, blood pressure increased more rapidly in the nicotine-treated SHRs compared to the controls. The marked effects on antioxidant status observed were attributable more to hypertension than to the nicotine treatment.
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