African-Americans have a higher prevalence of hypertension compared with whites, possibly due to elevated oxidative stress and subsequent vascular dysfunction. It is unclear the contribution of aging on oxidative stress and vascular function in a racially diverse cohort.
Ninety-three young and older African-American and white participants received antioxidant (AOX) or placebo supplementation in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over design. Measures of endothelial function (reactive hyperemia, flow-mediated dilation), exercise blood flow, and biomarkers of oxidative stress and AOX activity were measured following supplementation.
In young adults, there were racial differences in resistance vessel response to reactive hyperemia and no effects of race on macrovascular function following AOX supplementation. Following AOX supplementation, older white adults improved while African-Americans reduced resistance vessel function responses to reactive hyperemia, whereas macrovascular function improved in both races, with a greater increase in African-Americans. There were racial differences in blood flow normalized to lean mass during handgrip exercise at 20% maximal voluntary contraction in the young group and AOX supplementation led to increased forearm vascular conductance in older whites with a decrease in older African-Americans. There was a supplement effect in superoxide dismutase activity in younger adults only.
The results of the current study show that there are differential effects of AOX supplementation on macrovascular and resistance vessel function, and this is impacted by both age and race.