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Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2011 Aug 4;10:73. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-10-73.

High glucose-induced apoptosis in human coronary artery endothelial cells involves up-regulation of death receptors.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.



High glucose can induce apoptosis in vascular endothelial cells, which may contribute to the development of vascular complications in diabetes. We evaluated the role of the death receptor pathway of apoptotic signaling in high glucose-induced apoptosis in human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs).


HCAECs were treated with media containing 5.6, 11.1, and 16.7 mM of glucose for 24 h in the presence or absence of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. For detection of apoptosis, DNA fragmentation assay was used. HCAEC expression of death receptors were analyzed by the PCR and flow cytometry methods. Also, using immunohistochemical techniques, coronary expression of death receptors was assessed in streptozotocin-nicotinamide-induced type 2 diabetic mice.


Exposure of HCAECs to high glucose resulted in a significant increase in TNF-R1 and Fas expression, compared with normal glucose. High glucose increased TNF-α production by HCAECs and exogenous TNF-α up-regulated TNF-R1 and Fas expression in HCAECs. High glucose-induced up-regulation of TNF-R1 and Fas expression was undetectable in the presence of TNF-α. Treatment with TNF-R1 neutralizing peptides significantly inhibited high glucose-induced endothelial cell apoptosis. Type 2 diabetic mice displayed appreciable expression of TNF-R1 and Fas in coronary vessels.


In association with increased TNF-α levels, the death receptors, TNF-R1 and Fas, are up-regulated in HCAECs under high glucose conditions, which could in turn play a role in high glucose-induced endothelial cell apoptosis.

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