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eISSN: 1643-3750

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Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) protects vascular endothelial cells against advanced glycation end products (AGEs) – induced apoptosis

Yi Zhan, Hui-lin Sun, Hong Chen, Hua Zhang, Jia Sun, Zhen Zhang, De-hong Cai

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(7): BR286-291

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883207


Background:    The peptide glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone secreted by intestinal L cells in response to food intake. GLP-1 has been proposed as the basis of emerging therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the effects of GLP-1 on vascular injury in diabetes have not been identified. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) induce endothelial cell apoptosis and have been implicated in the process of vascular complications from diabetes.
    Material/Methods:    The aim of this work was to investigate whether and how GLP-1 protects endothelial cells from apoptosis induced by AGEs. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were treated with AGEs (200 µg/mL) for 48 h in the presence or absence of GLP-1. Cell morphology, viability, apoptosis, ratio of Bcl-2 protein to Bax protein, cytochrome c release, and activity of caspase-9 and -3 were determined.
    Results:    Treatment of cells with AGEs led to cell morphology changes and decreased cell viability, resulting in apoptosis. GLP-1 alone increased cell viability in a concentration-dependent manner. GLP-1 partially inhibited AGEs-induced apoptosis in HUVECs. GLP-1 increased Bcl-2/Bax ratio, reduced cytochrome c levels in the cytoplasm, and reduced the activity of caspase-9 and -3 in AGEs-treated HUVECs.
    Conclusions:    AGEs induces apoptosis via the mitochondrion-cytochrome c-caspase protease pathway, and GLP-1 protects endothelial cells by interfering with this mechanism. GLP-1 may represent an anti-apoptotic agent in the treatment of vascular complications arising from diabetes.

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