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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Nov;281(5):E924-30.

Intermittent high glucose enhances apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells in culture.

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Department of Science and Biomedical Technology, University of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy.


To explore the effect of fluctuating glucose on endothelial cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells were incubated for 14 days in media containing different glucose concentrations: 5 mmol/l, 20 mmol/l, or a daily alternating 5 or 20 mmol/l glucose. Apoptosis was studied by different methods: viability assay, cell cycle analysis, DNA fragmentation, and morphological analysis. Furthermore, the levels of Bcl-2 and Bax, well known proteins involved in apoptosis, were evaluated. Stable high glucose induced apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells, a phenomenon accompanied by a significant decrease of Bcl-2 and a simultaneous increase of Bax expression. However, apoptosis was enhanced in human umbilical vein endothelial cells exposed to intermittent, rather than constant, high glucose concentration. In this condition, Bcl-2 was not detectable, whereas Bax expression was significantly enhanced. These findings suggest that variability in glycemic control could be more deleterious to endothelial cells than a constant high concentration of glucose.

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