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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to: Alanna Morris, M.D., 1462 Clifton Road North East, Suite 507, Atlanta GA 30322. Email: aamorr3@emory.edu.

The authors thank the META-Health study population and Emory and Morehouse GCRC staff for their assistance and participation.

The authors have no financial conflicts of interest to disclose.


Research Funding:

National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute (NIH/NHLBI) 1 U01 HL079156-01 (Quyyumi)

NIH/NHLBI 1 U01 HL79214-01 (Gibbons)

NIH, National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Grant M01-RR00039 for the Emory General Clinical Research Center (GCRC)

NIH/NCRR 5P20RR11104 for the Morehouse CRC

NIH K24HL077506-06 (Vaccarino)

NIH/NCRR 5U54RR022814 (Din)

Differences in Systemic Oxidative Stress Based on Race and the Metabolic Syndrome: The Morehouse and Emory Team up to Eliminate Health Disparities (META-Health) Study


Journal Title:

Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders


Volume 10, Number 4


, Pages 252-259

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background: Classification schema such as metabolic syndrome may underestimate cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in African Americans, despite a higher burden of CVD in African Americans. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance of prooxidants and antioxidants and leads to endothelial dysfunction that promotes vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis. Aminothiol markers of oxidative stress are associated with CVD risk factors and metabolic syndrome; however, little is known about racial differences in levels of oxidative stress. We sought to investigate whether oxidative stress would be higher in African Americans compared to whites independently of traditional risk factor burden. Methods: We assessed oxidative stress in a biracial, community-based cohort. In 620 subjects (59% female, 52% African American) in the Morehouse and Emory Team up to Eliminate Health Disparities (META-Health) study, we measured plasma levels of glutathione, an intracellular antioxidant, and its redox potential as a ratio of reduced and oxidized glutathione (Eh glutathione). Results: African Americans had lower glutathione levels (P<0.001) compared to whites. There was a trend toward more oxidized Eh glutathione (P=0.07) in African Americans; however, this did not reach statistical significance. After adjustment for demographics and CVD risk factors, African-American race remained a significant correlate of lower glutathione levels (P<0.001) and a more oxidized Eh glutathione (P=0.04). After further adjustment for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), glutathione remained significantly lower in African Americans (P=0.001). African Americans with or without metabolic syndrome had lower glutathione levels compared to whites with or without metabolic syndrome, respectively (both P≤0.001), and African Americans without metabolic syndrome had a more oxidized Eh glutathione compared to whites without metabolic syndrome (P=0.003). Conclusions: African Americans have higher levels of oxidative stress than whites, even after adjustment for differences in CVD risk factors and inflammation. Racial differences in oxidative stress may play a key role in understanding observed racial disparities in CVD.

Copyright information:

Copyright 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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