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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 Oct;293(4):H2344-54. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Homocysteine induces VCAM-1 gene expression through NF-kappaB and NAD(P)H oxidase activation: protective role of Mediterranean diet polyphenolic antioxidants.

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Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerca Institute of Clinical Physiology, University of Lecce, Lecce, Italy.


Hyperhomocysteinemia is a recognized risk factor for vascular disease, but pathogenetic mechanisms involved in its vascular actions are largely unknown. Because VCAM-1 expression is crucial in monocyte adhesion and early atherogenesis, we evaluated the NF-kappaB-related induction of VCAM-1 by homocysteine (Hcy) and the possible inhibitory effect of dietary polyphenolic antioxidants, such as trans-resveratrol (RSV) and hydroxytyrosol (HT), which are known inhibitors of NF-kappaB-mediated VCAM-1 induction. In human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), Hcy, at 100 micromol/l, but not cysteine, induced VCAM-1 expression at the protein and mRNA levels, as shown by enzyme immunoassay and Northern analysis, respectively. Transfection studies with deletional VCAM-1 promoter constructs demonstrated that the two tandem NF-kappaB motifs in the VCAM-1 promoter are necessary for Hcy-induced VCAM-1 gene expression. Hcy-induced NF-kappaB activation was confirmed by EMSA, as shown by the nuclear translocation of its p65 (RelA) subunit and the degradation of the inhibitors IkappaB-alpha and IkappaB-beta by Western analysis. Hcy also increased intracellular reactive oxygen species by NAD(P)H oxidase activation, as shown by the membrane translocation of its p47(phox) subunit. NF-kappaB inhibitors decreased Hcy-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species and VCAM-1 expression. Finally, we found that nutritionally relevant concentrations of RSV and HT, but not folate and vitamin B6, reduce (by >60% at 10(-6) mol/l) Hcy-induced VCAM-1 expression and monocytoid cell adhesion to the endothelium. These data indicate that pathophysiologically relevant Hcy concentrations induce VCAM-1 expression through a prooxidant mechanism involving NF-kappaB. Natural Mediterranean diet antioxidants can inhibit such activation, suggesting their possible therapeutic role in Hcy-induced vascular damage.

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