Oral sapropterin acutely augments reflex vasodilation in aged human skin through nitric oxide-dependent mechanisms

Anna E. Stanhewicz, Lacy M. Alexander, W. Larry Kenney

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34 Scopus citations


Functional constitutive nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and its cofactor tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) are required for full reflex cutaneous vasodilation and are attenuated in primary aging. Acute, locally administered BH4 increases reflex vasodilation through NO-dependent mechanisms in aged skin. We hypothesized that oral sapropterin (Kuvan, shelfstable pharmaceutical formulation of BH4) would augment reflex vasodilation in aged human skin during hyperthermia. Nine healthy human subjects (76 ± 1 yr) ingested sapropterin (10 mg/kg) or placebo in a randomized double-blind crossover design. Venous blood samples were collected prior to, and 3 h following, ingestion of sapropterin for measurement of plasma BH4. Three intradermal microdialysis fibers were placed in the forearm skin for local delivery of 1) lactated Ringer's solution, 2) 10 mM BH4, and 3) 20 mM NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) to inhibit NOS. Red cell flux was measured at each site by laser-Doppler flowmetry (LDF) as reflex vasodilation was induced using a water-perfused suit. At 1°C rise in oral temperature, mean body temperature was clamped and 20 mM L-NAME was perfused at each site. Cutaneous vascular conductance was calculated (CVC = LDF/MAP) and expressed as a percentage of maximum (%CVCmax 28 mM sodium nitroprusside and local heat 43°C). Plasma concentrations of BH4 were significantly elevated 3 h after ingestion of sapropterin (0 h: 19.1 ± 2 pmol/ml vs. 3 h: 43.8 ± 3 pmol/ml; P < 0.001). Sapropterin increased NO-dependent vasodilation at control site (placebo: 14 ± 1 %CVCmax vs. sapropterin: 25 ± 4 %CVCmax; P = 0.004). Local BH4 administration increased NO-dependent vasodilation compared with control in placebo trials only (control: 14 ± 1 %CVC max vs. BH4-treated: 24 ± 3 %CVCmax; P = 0.02). These data suggest oral sapropterin increases bioavailable BH 4 in aged skin microvasculature sufficiently to increase NO synthesis through NOS and that sapropterin may be a viable intervention to increase skin blood flow during hyperthermia in healthy aged humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)972-978
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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