Author(s): Lassgue B, Griendling KK
Reactive oxygen species are ubiquitous signaling molecules in biological systems. Four members of the NADPH oxidase (Nox) enzyme family are important sources of reactive oxygen species in the vasculature: Nox1, Nox2, Nox4, and Nox5. Signaling cascades triggered by stresses, hormones, vasoactive agents, and cytokines control the expression and activity of these enzymes and of their regulatory subunits, among which p22phox, p47phox, Noxa1, and p67phox are present in blood vessels. Vascular Nox enzymes are also regulated by Rac, ClC-3, Poldip2, and protein disulfide isomerase. Multiple Nox subtypes, simultaneously present in different subcellular compartments, produce specific amounts of superoxide, some of which is rapidly converted to hydrogen peroxide. The identity and location of these reactive oxygen species, and of the enzymes that degrade them, determine their downstream signaling pathways. Nox enzymes participate in a broad array of cellular functions, including differentiation, fibrosis, growth, proliferation, apoptosis, cytoskeletal regulation, migration, and contraction. They are involved in vascular pathologies such as hypertension, restenosis, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. As our understanding of the regulation of these oxidases progresses, so will our ability to alter their functions and associated pathologies.