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Drug Dev Res. 2019 Feb 14. doi: 10.1002/ddr.21521. [Epub ahead of print]

Ilexgenin A inhibits mitochondrial fission and promote Drp1 degradation by Nrf2-induced PSMB5 in endothelial cells.

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State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China.
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Kunming Children's Hosiptal, Kunming, China.


Atherosclerosis (AS) is one of important events involving in the pathological process of coronary artery disease. Many traditional Chinese medicines have been widely used for the treatment of AS. Previous studies have demonstrated that Ilexgenin A (IA) obtained from Ilex hainanensis Merr. could improve AS development. However, its underlying mechanism is still unknown. This study was conducted to explore the possible targets and mechanisms involving in the anti-atheroclerosis effect of IA. The results showed IA significantly promoted NO production, reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and inflammatory cytokine production induced by palmitate (PA) in endothelial cells, demonstrating IA could improve endothelial dysfunction. Meanwhile, IA dramatically inhibited dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) expression and mitochondrial fission induced by PA whereas proteasome inhibitor epoxomicin attenuated its effect on Drp1 expression, indicating IA decreased Drp1 expression with regulation of proteasome. Furthermore, IA also could increase the expression of proteasome subunit beta type5 (PSMB5) and activate nuclear factor-like 2 (Nrf2). Nrf2 knockdown eliminated the induction effect of IA on PSMB5 expression while abrogated its inhibition on ROS generation and mitochondrial fission stimulated by PA. These results demonstrated that IA could promote PSMB5 expression in an Nrf2-dependent manner, resulting in the suppression of mitochondrial fission, and thus improve endothelial dysfunction. These findings laid a foundation to the future development of IA as an agent to the prevention and treatment of AS.


Ilexgenin A; Nrf2; endothelial dysfunction; mitochondrial fission


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