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Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2019 Mar;23(6):2669-2680. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_201903_17415.

Sulodexide counteracts endothelial dysfunction induced by metabolic or non-metabolic stresses through activation of the autophagic program.

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Department of Radiotherapy, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy.



Endothelial dysfunction (ED) predisposes to venous thrombosis (VT) and post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), a long-term VT-related complication. Sulodexide (SDX) is a highly purified glycosaminoglycan with antithrombotic, pro-fibrinolytic and anti-inflammatory activity used in the treatment of chronic venous disease (CVD), including patients with PTS. SDX has recently obtained clinical evidence in the "extension therapy" after initial-standard anticoagulant treatment for the secondary prevention of recurrent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Herein, we investigated how SDX counteracts ED.


Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were used. Metabolic and non metabolic-induced ED was induced by treating with methylglyoxal (MGO) or irradiation (IR), respectively. Bafilomycin A1 was used to inhibit autophagy. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay for cell viability, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay for cell apoptosis, Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis for gene and protein expression were used.


SDX protected HUVEC from MGO- or IR-induced apoptosis by counteracting the activation of the intrinsic and extrinsic caspase cascades. The cytoprotective effects of SDX resulted from a reduction in a) ROS production, b) neo-synthesis and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF╬▒, IL1, IL6, IL8), c) DNA damage induced by MGO or IR. These effects were reduced when autophagy was inhibited.


Data herein collected indicate the ability of SDX to counteract ED induced by metabolic or non-metabolic stresses by involving the intracellular autophagy pathway. Our experience significantly increases the knowledge of the mechanisms of action of SDX against ED and supports the use of SDX in the treatment of CVD, PTS and in the secondary prevention of recurrent DVT.

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