Oxidative stress has been implicated in the development of hypertension, arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis. Optimal functioning of the enzymatic antioxidant system is central to prevent increased oxidative stress and its consequences. We aimed to investigate the relationships of ambulatory blood pressure and carotid intima-media thickness with enzyme activities of the glutathione cycle in 396 young, black and white South Africans of the African-PREDICT study. Ambulatory blood pressure and carotid intima-media thickness were measured and glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase activities were analyzed. Black participants had higher reactive oxygen species (men: p = 0.019; women: borderline p = 0.064) and total glutathione (both p < 0.001), but lower glutathione peroxidase activity and total antioxidant status (all p < 0.001). In black men, ambulatory pulse pressure was negatively associated with glutathione peroxidase activity (R2 = 0.19; β = −0.25; p = 0.06). Black and white women displayed positive associations of ambulatory systolic blood pressure (black: R2 = 0.25; β = 0.21; p = 0.048; white: R2 = 0.44; β = 0.18; p = 0.016) with glutathione reductase activity, whereas white men displayed a positive association of ambulatory pulse pressure with glutathione reductase activity (R2 = 0.25; β = 0.29; p = 0.01). The lower glutathione peroxidase activity and total antioxidant status, the higher reactive oxygen species, as well as the negative association between ambulatory pulse pressure and glutathione peroxidase activity in the black men suggest that oxidative stress may be associated with early vascular changes in this group. In the other three groups, the positive associations of blood pressure with glutathione reductase activity suggest a possible role for adequate glutathione reductase activity in preventing or delaying the development of hypertension.
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The African-PREDICT study would not have been possible without the participants who voluntarily participated in this study. We thank all the students, support staff and researchers of the Hypertension Research and Training Clinic at the North-West University for their dedication and support throughout this study. The research funded in this article is part of an ongoing research project financially supported by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) with funds from National Treasury under its Economic Competitiveness and Support Package; the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa; the Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) Unit of the SAMRC with funds received from the South African National Department of Health, GlaxoSmithKline R&D, the UK Medical Research Council and with funds from the UK Government’s Newton Fund; as well as corporate social investment grants from Pfizer (South Africa), Boehringer-Ingelheim (South Africa), Novartis (South Africa), the Medi Clinic Hospital Group (South Africa) and in kind contributions of Roche Diagnostics (SA). Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors, and therefore, the NRF do not accept any liability in regard.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.