Recently, we demonstrated that the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) ligands, either 15-deoxy-Delta12,14-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2) or ciglitazone, increased endothelial nitric oxide (.NO) release without altering endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression (4). However, the precise molecular mechanisms of PPAR-gamma-stimulated endothelial.NO release remain to be defined. Superoxide anion radical (O2-.) combines with .NO to decrease.NO bioavailability. NADPH oxidase, which produces O2-., and Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD), which degrades O2-., thereby contribute to regulation of endothelial cell.NO metabolism. Therefore, we examined the ability of PPAR-gamma ligands to modulate endothelial O2-. metabolism through alterations in the expression and activity of NADPH oxidase or Cu/Zn-SOD. Treatment with 10 microM 15d-PGJ2 or ciglitazone for 24 h decreased human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) membrane NADPH-dependent O2-. production detected with electron spin resonance spectroscopy. Treatment with 15d-PGJ2 or ciglitazone also reduced relative mRNA levels of the NADPH oxidase subunits, nox-1, gp91phox (nox-2), and nox-4, as measured using real-time PCR analysis. Concordantly, Western blot analysis demonstrated that 15d-PGJ2 or ciglitazone decreased nox-2 and nox-4 protein expression. PPAR-gamma ligands also stimulated both activity and expression of Cu/Zn-SOD in HUVEC. These data suggest that in addition to any direct effects on endothelial.NO production, PPAR-gamma ligands enhance endothelial.NO bioavailability, in part by altering endothelial O2-. metabolism through suppression of NADPH oxidase and induction of Cu/Zn-SOD. These findings further elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which PPAR-gamma ligands directly alter vascular endothelial function.