Background: Arterial stiffness, the expression of reduced arterial elasticity, is an effective
predictor of cardiovascular disorders. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between exposure to toxic reactive
oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant systems. The increase in reactive nitrogen species (RNS) is
termed nitrosative stress.
Methodology: We review the main mechanisms and products linking arterial stiffness with oxidative
and nitrosative stress in several disorders, focusing on recent experimental and clinical data, and the
mechanisms explaining benefits of antioxidant therapy. Oxidative and nitrosative stress play important
roles in arterial stiffness elevation in several disorders, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension, metabolic
syndrome, obesity, peripheral arterial disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, systemic
lupus erythematosus, thalassemia, Kawasaki disease and malignant disorders. Oxidative and nitrosative
stress are responsible for endothelial dysfunction due to uncoupling of the nitric oxide synthase, oxidative
damage to lipids, proteins and DNA in vascular endothelial cells, associated with inflammation,
arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.
Conclusion: Regular physical exercise, caloric restriction, red wine, statins, sartans, metformin, oestradiol,
curcumin and combinations of antioxidant vitamins are therapeutic strategies that may decrease
arterial stiffness and oxidative stress thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. ROS and RNS
represent potential therapeutic targets for preventing progression of arterial stiffness.