, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 391-399
Date: 16 Nov 2012

Anthocyanins protect human endothelial cells from mild hyperoxia damage through modulation of Nrf2 pathway

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Abstract

The detrimental effects of high oxygen supplementation have been widely reported. Conversely, few is known about the effects of exposure to mild hyperoxic conditions, an interesting issue since the use of oxygen-enriched mixture is now increasingly used in clinical practice and especially for professional and recreational reasons. Our study investigated if in vitro exposure of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to moderate hyperoxia (O2 32 %) induces cellular alterations, measured as changes in cell signaling pathways. Furthermore, by means of an ex vivo experimental model where human volunteers were used as bioreactors, we studied whether anthocyanin metabolites are able to protect HUVECs against mild hyperoxia-induced damage. We observed that the cytotoxic effect of mild hyperoxia came along with a significant decrease in nuclear accumulation of the transcription factor Nrf2, as well as in the expression of Nrf2-regulated antioxidant and cytoprotective genes. Furthermore, under normoxic conditions, anthocyanin metabolites appeared able to activate the Nrf2 pathway, through the involvement of specific kinases (ERK1/2); this adaptive effect may explain the protective effect observed in mild hyperoxia-exposed HUVECs following anthocyanin pretreatment. This study confirms that dietary anthocyanins and/or their metabolites can protect endothelial cells against mild hyperoxia-induced alterations acting as cell signaling modulators.

Cimino F. and Speciale A. contributed equally to this work.