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Mol Cell Biochem. 2010 Oct;343(1-2):27-35. doi: 10.1007/s11010-010-0495-5. Epub 2010 Jun 4.

Intermittent high glucose enhances cell proliferation and VEGF expression in retinal endothelial cells: the role of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species.

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Department of Endocrinology, Zhongnan Hospital, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.


Proliferation of human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) is an important event in the development of diabetic retinopathy. Glucose fluctuations are strong predictor of diabetic vascular complications. In this study we have investigated the effect of intermittent high glucose on proliferation and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in HRECs. The possible involvement of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) was assessed. HRECs were incubated for 72 h in media containing different glucose concentrations: 5, 25, 5 mmol/l alternating with 25 mmol/l glucose, with or without Mn(III)tetrakis(4-benzoic acid) porphyrin chloride (MnTBAP) and thenoyltri-fluoroacetone (TTFA). The cell proliferation, VEGF expression, mitochondrial ROS, nitrotyrosine and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) were measured. In cultured HRECs, treatment with constant or intermittent high glucose significantly increased [(3)H]thymidine incorporation in a time-dependent manner. Treatment with constant high glucose for 48 h resulted in significant increases in [(3)H]thymidine incorporation, mRNA and protein levels of VEGF compared with HRECs treated with the normal glucose, which were markedly enhanced in cells exposed to intermittent high glucose. The levels of mitochondrial ROS, nitrotyrosine and 8-OhdG were significantly elevated under both intermittent and constant high glucose conditions, the effect being greater under intermittent high glucose. In addition, the antioxidants MnTBAP or TTFA can effectively prevent cell proliferation and overexpression of VEGF, as well as overproduction of mitochondrial ROS, nitrotyrosine and 8-OhdG in HRECs induced by constant or intermittent high glucose. Intermittent high glucose enhances cell proliferation and overexpression of VEGF through reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction at the mitochondrial transport chain level in HRECs, indicating that glycemic variability have important pathological effects on the development of diabetic retinopathy dependent of mitochondrial ROS.

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