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Cardiovasc Res. 2005 Jun 1;66(3):562-73. Epub 2005 Feb 25.

PGC-1alpha regulates the mitochondrial antioxidant defense system in vascular endothelial cells.

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  • 1Centro de Investigaciones Biol√≥gicas (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cient√≠ficas), Ramiro de Maeztu, Madrid, Spain.



Mitochondrial production of oxidants contributes to a variety of pathological conditions including the vascular complications of diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cellular senescence. We postulated that a transcriptional coactivator, peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1alpha (PGC-1alpha), a major regulator of oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis, could be involved in the transcriptional regulation of the mitochondrial antioxidant defense system in vascular endothelial cells.


We show that PGC-1alpha is present in human, bovine, and mouse endothelial cells and positively modulates the expression of the mitochondrial detoxification system. Endothelial cells that overexpress PGC-1alpha show reduced accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased mitochondrial membrane potential, and reduced apoptotic cell death both in basal and oxidative stress conditions. Downregulation of PGC-1alpha levels by siRNA reduces the expression of mitochondrial detoxification proteins.


These results unveil a novel regulatory pathway that links mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial oxidative stress protective systems. In addition, they suggest that PGC-1alpha could play a crucial protective role in vascular complications of diabetes, where the mitochondrial metabolism of glucose has been shown to result in oxidative stress and vascular endothelial cell dysfunction.

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