Reactive carbonyls from tobacco smoke increase arterial endothelial layer injury

Adam E. Mullick, James M. McDonald, Goar Melkonian, Prudence Talbot, Kent E Pinkerton, John C Rutledge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that reactive carbonyls generated from smoke exposure cause increased arterial low-density lipoprotein (LDL) accumulation and endothelial layer permeability. In addition, we hypothesized that estrogen supplementation was protective against chronic environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure to the artery wall. Quantitative fluorescence microscopy was used to determine artery injury after exposure. For our chronic studies, ovariectomized rats treated with subcutaneous placebo or 17β-estradiol pellets were exposed to ETS or filtered air for 6 wk. ETS exposure increased carotid artery LDL accumulation more than fourfold compared with filtered air exposure, an effect largely mediated by increased permeability. No protective effect of estradiol was observed. Acute ETS exposure of a buffer solution containing LDL resulted in a more than sixfold increase in the highly reactive carbonyl glyoxal. Perfusion of this solution through carotid arteries resulted in a 105% increase in permeability. Moreover, perfusion of glyoxal alone caused a 50% increase in carotid artery permeability. This endothelial damage and changes in lipid accumulation may serve as an initiating event in atheroma formation in individuals exposed to ETS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 52-2
StatePublished - 2002


  • α-dicarbonyls
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Estrogen
  • Permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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