Tetrahydrobiopterin supplementation enhances carotid artery compliance in healthy older men: A pilot study

Gary L. Pierce, Kristen L. Jablonski, Ashley E. Walker, Sara Marian Seibert, Allison E. Devan, Stephen Matthew Black, Shruti Sharma, Douglas R. Seals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Background We performed a pilot study to test the hypothesis that acute oral ingestion of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH 4), a key cofactor modulating vascular nitric oxide (NO) synthase activity, improves large elastic artery stiffness with aging in men.MethodsHealthy older (63 2 years; n = 8) and young (agE 25 1 years; n = 6) men were studied 3 h after ingestion of BH 4 (10 mgkg 1 body weight) or placebo on separate days in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.ResultsBaseline carotid artery compliance was 37% lower (0.17 0.02 vs. 0.22 0.02 mm/mm Hg10 1) and Β-stiffness was 42% higher (7.3 1.1 vs. 4.2 0.5 AU) in the older men (both P 0.05). BH 4 ingestion markedly increased circulating BH 4 concentrations in both groups (17-19-fold, P 0.05), but increased compliance (39% to 0.23 0.02 mm/mm Hg. 10 1, P 0.01) and decreased Β-stiffness index (-27% to 5.3 0.7 AU, P 0.01) only in the older men. BH 4 also reduced carotid systolic blood pressure (SBP) in the older men (P 0.05).ConclusionsThese preliminary results support the possibility that limited BH 4 bioavailability contributes to impaired carotid artery compliance in healthy older men. Further studies are needed to determine if increasing BH 4 bioavailability though oral BH 4 supplementation may have therapeutic efficacy for improving large elastic artery compliance and reducing central SBP with aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1050-1054
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of hypertension
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012



  • arterial stiffness
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • central blood pressure
  • hypertension
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this

Pierce, G. L., Jablonski, K. L., Walker, A. E., Seibert, S. M., Devan, A. E., Black, S. M., ... Seals, D. R. (2012). Tetrahydrobiopterin supplementation enhances carotid artery compliance in healthy older men: A pilot study. American journal of hypertension, 25(10), 1050-1054. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajh.2012.70