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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2005 Oct;289(4):H1744-51. Epub 2005 Jun 17.

Hyperglycemia alters PI3k and Akt signaling and leads to endothelial cell proliferative dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, 185 S. Orange Ave., Newark, NJ 07101, USA.


Diabetes mellitus is a major risk factor for the development of vascular complications. We hypothesized that hyperglycemia decreases endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and survival via phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3k) and Akt signaling pathways. We cultured human umbilical vein ECs (HUVEC) in 5, 20, or 40 mM d-glucose. Cells grown in 5, 20, and 40 mM mannitol served as a control for osmotic effects. We measured EC proliferation for up to 15 days. We assessed apoptosis by annexin V and propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry, analyzed cell lysates obtained on culture day 8 for total and phosphorylated PI3k and Akt by Western blot analysis, and measured Akt kinase activity using a GSK fusion protein. HUVEC proliferation was also tested in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors of PI3k-Akt (wortmannin and LY294002) and after transfection with a constitutively active Akt mutant. ECs in media containing 5 mM d-glucose (control) exhibited log-phase growth on days 7-10. d-Glucose at 20 and 40 mM significantly decreased proliferation versus control (P < 0.05 for both), whereas mannitol did not impair EC proliferation. Apoptosis increased significantly in HUVEC exposed to 40 mM d-glucose. d-Glucose at 40 mM significantly decreased tyrosine-phosphorylated PI3k, threonine 308-phosphorylated-Akt, and Akt activity relative to control 5 mM d-glucose. Pharmacological inhibition of PI3k-Akt resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in EC proliferation. Transfection with a constitutively active Akt mutant protected ECs by enhancing proliferation when grown in 20 and 40 mM d-glucose. We conclude that d-glucose regulates Akt signaling through threonine phosphorylation of Akt and that hyperglycemia-impaired PI3k-Akt signaling may promote EC proliferative dysfunction in diabetes.

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