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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 21;9(1):e86564. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086564. eCollection 2014.

Perturbation of human coronary artery endothelial cell redox state and NADPH generation by methylglyoxal.

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  • 1Free Radical Group, The Heart Research Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia ; Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Diabetes is associated with elevated plasma glucose, increased reactive aldehyde formation, oxidative damage, and glycation/glycoxidation of biomolecules. Cellular detoxification of, or protection against, such modifications commonly requires NADPH-dependent reducing equivalents (e.g. GSH). We hypothesised that reactive aldehydes may modulate cellular redox status via the inhibition of NADPH-generating enzymes, resulting in decreased thiol and NADPH levels. Primary human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAEC) were incubated with high glucose (25 mM, 24 h, 37°C), or methylglyoxal (MGO), glyoxal, or glycolaldehyde (100-500 µM, 1 h, 37°C), before quantification of intracellular thiols and NADPH-generating enzyme activities. Exposure to MGO, but not the other species examined, significantly (P<0.05) decreased total thiols (∼35%), further experiments with MGO showed significant losses of GSH (∼40%) and NADPH (∼10%); these changes did not result in an immediate loss of cell viability. Significantly decreased (∼10%) NADPH-producing enzyme activity was observed for HCAEC when glucose-6-phosphate or 2-deoxyglucose-6-phosphate were used as substrates. Cell lysate experiments showed significant MGO-dose dependent inhibition of glucose-6-phosphate-dependent enzymes and isocitrate dehydrogenase, but not malic enzyme. Analysis of intact cell or lysate proteins showed that arginine-derived hydroimidazolones were the predominant advanced glycation end-product (AGE) formed; lower levels of N(ε)-(carboxyethyl)lysine (CEL) and N(ε)-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML) were also detected. These data support a novel mechanism by which MGO exposure results in changes in redox status in human coronary artery endothelial cells, via inhibition of NADPH-generating enzymes, with resultant changes in reduced protein thiol and GSH levels. These changes may contribute to the endothelial cell dysfunction observed in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis.

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