Changes in aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 expression in rat blood vessels during glyceryl trinitrate tolerance development and reversal


Dr Brian M. Bennett, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6. E-mail:


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Recent studies have suggested an essential role for aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) in the bioactivation of organic nitrates such as glyceryl trinitrate (GTN). In the present study, we utilized an in vivo GTN tolerance model to further investigate the role of ALDH2 in GTN bioactivation and tolerance.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH We assessed changes in aortic ALDH activity, and in ALDH2 protein expression in various rat blood vessels (aorta, vena cava, femoral artery and femoral vein) during continuous GTN exposure (0.4 mg·h−1 for 6, 12, 24 or 48 h) or after a 1-, 3- or 5-day drug-free period following a 48 h exposure to GTN, in relation to changes in vasodilator responses to GTN and in vascular GTN biotransformation.

KEY RESULTS A decrease was observed in both ALDH2 protein expression (80% in tolerant veins and 30% in tolerant arteries after 48 h exposure to GTN) and aortic ALDH activity, concomitant with decreased vasodilator responses to GTN and decreased aortic GTN biotransformation. However, after a 24 h drug-free period following 48 h of GTN exposure, vasodilator responses to GTN and aortic GTN biotransformation activity had returned to control values, whereas vascular ALDH2 expression and aortic ALDH activity were still significantly depressed, and remained so for 3–5 days following cessation of GTN exposure.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The dissociation of reduced ALDH activity and ALDH2 expression from the duration of the impaired vasodilator and biotransformation responses to GTN in nitrate-tolerant blood vessels, suggests that factors other than changes in ALDH2-mediated GTN bioactivation contribute to nitrate tolerance.