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J Biol Chem. 2001 May 18;276(20):17316-23. Epub 2001 Feb 1.

Inhibition of oxidized low-density lipoprotein-induced apoptosis in endothelial cells by nitric oxide. Peroxyl radical scavenging as an antiapoptotic mechanism.

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Biophysics Research Institute and Free Radical Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226, USA.


Proatherogenic oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) induces endothelial apoptosis. We investigated the anti-apoptotic effects of intracellular and extracellular nitric oxide (*NO) donors, iron chelators, cell-permeable superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase mimetics, and nitrone spin traps. Peroxynitrite (ONOO-)-modified oxLDL induced endothelial apoptosis was measured by DNA fragmentation, TUNEL assay, and caspase-3 activation. Results indicated the following: (i) the lipid fraction of oxLDL was primarily responsible for endothelial apoptosis. (ii) Endothelial apoptosis was potently inhibited by *NO donors and lipophilic phenolic antioxidants. OxLDL severely depleted Bcl-2 levels in endothelial cells and *NO donors restored Bcl-2 protein in oxLDL-treated cells. (iii) The pretreatment of a lipid fraction derived from oxLDL with sodium borohydride or potassium iodide completely abrogated apoptosis in endothelial cells, suggesting that lipid hydroperoxides induce apoptosis. (iv) Metalloporphyrins dramatically inhibited oxLDL-induced apoptosis in endothelial cells. Neither S-nitrosation of caspase-3 nor induction of Hsp70 appeared to play a significant role in the antiapoptotic mechanism of *NO in oxLDL-induced endothelial apoptosis. We propose that cellular lipid peroxyl radicals or lipid hydroperoxides induce an apoptotic signaling cascade in endothelial cells exposed to oxLDL, and that *NO inhibits apoptosis by scavenging cellular lipid peroxyl radicals.

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