Background and Purpose
Regulation of the homeostasis of vascular endothelium is critical for the processes of vascular remodeling and angiogenesis under physiological and pathological conditions. Urotensin II (U-II), a potent vasoactive peptide, participates in vascular and myocardial remodeling after injury. We investigated the protective effect of U-II on doxorubicin (DOX)-induced apoptosis in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and the potential mechanisms involved in this process.
Cultured HUVECs were treated with vehicle, DOX (1 ?M), U-II, or U-II plus DOX. Apoptosis was evaluated by DNA strand break level with TdT-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) staining. Western blot analysis was employed to determine the related protein expression and flow cytometry assay was used to determine the TUNEL positive cells.
U-II reduced the quantity of cleaved caspase-3 and cytosol cytochrome c and increased Bcl-2 expression, which results in protecting HUVECs from DOX-induced apoptosis. U-II induced Activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) at both mRNA and protein levels in U-II-treated cells. Knockdown of ATF3 with ATF3 siRNA significantly reduced ATF3 protein levels and U-II protective effect under DOX-treated condition. U-II downregulated p53 expression in DOX-induced HUVECs apoptosis, and it rapidly activated extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) and Akt. The DOX induced change of p53 was not affected by U-II antagonist (urantide) under ATF-3 knockdown. The inhibitory effect of U-II on DOX-increased apoptosis was attenuated by inhibitors of ERK (U0126) and PI3K/Akt (LY294002).
Conclusion and Implications
Our observations provide evidence that U-II protects HUVECs from DOX-induced apoptosis. ERK-Akt phosphorylation, ATF3 activation, and p53 downregulation may play a signal-transduction role in this process.