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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 104308, 10 pages
Review Article

Nrf2 and Cardiovascular Defense

Laboratory of Systems Physiology, Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA

Received 11 January 2013; Revised 15 March 2013; Accepted 19 March 2013

Academic Editor: Hye-Youn Cho

Copyright © 2013 Reuben Howden. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The cardiovascular system is susceptible to a group of diseases that are responsible for a larger proportion of morbidity and mortality than any other disease. Many cardiovascular diseases are associated with a failure of defenses against oxidative stress-induced cellular damage and/or death, leading to organ dysfunction. The pleiotropic transcription factor, nuclear factor-erythroid (NF-E) 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), regulates the expression of antioxidant enzymes and proteins through the antioxidant response element. Nrf2 is an important component in antioxidant defenses in cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and heart failure. Nrf2 is also involved in protection against oxidant stress during the processes of ischemia-reperfusion injury and aging. However, evidence suggests that Nrf2 activity does not always lead to a positive outcome and may accelerate the pathogenesis of some cardiovascular diseases (e.g., atherosclerosis). The precise conditions under which Nrf2 acts to attenuate or stimulate cardiovascular disease processes are unclear. Further studies on the cellular environments related to cardiovascular diseases that influence Nrf2 pathways are required before Nrf2 can be considered a therapeutic target for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.