Vascular aging is accompanied by increases in circulatory proinflammatory cytokines leading to inflammatory endothelial response implicated in early atherogenesis. To study the possible role of mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) in this phenomenon, we applied the effective mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1, the conjugate of plastoquinone with dodecyltriphenylphosphonium. Eight months treatment of (CBAxC57BL/6) F1 mice with SkQ1 did not prevent age-related elevation of the major proinflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-6 in serum, but completely abrogated the increase in adhesion molecule ICAM1 expression in aortas of 24-month-old animals. In endothelial cell culture, SkQ1 also attenuated TNF-induced increase in ICAM1, VCAM, and E-selectin expression and secretion of IL-6 and IL-8, and prevented neutrophil adhesion to the endothelial monolayer. Using specific inhibitors to transcription factor NF-κB and stress-kinases p38 and JNK, we demonstrated that TNF-induced ICAM1 expression depends mainly on NF-κB activity and, to a lesser extent, on p38. SkQ1 had no effect on p38 phosphorylation (activation) but significantly reduced NF-κB activation by inhibiting phosphorylation and proteolytic cleavage of the inhibitory subunit IκBα. The data indicate an important role of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species in regulation of the NF-κB pathway and corresponding age-related inflammatory activation of endothelium.
Mitochondrial dysfunctions occur in many diseases linked to the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). Mild uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation is known to rescue model animals from pathologies related to mitochondrial dysfunctions and overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS). To study the potential of SIRS therapy by uncoupling, we tested protonophore dinitrophenol (DNP) and a free fatty acid (FFA) anion carrier, lipophilic cation dodecyltriphenylphosphonium (CTPP) in mice and in vitro models of SIRS. DNP and CTPP prevented the body temperature drop and lethality in mice injected with high doses of a SIRS inducer, tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The mitochondria-targeted antioxidant plastoquinonyl decyltriphenylphosphonium (SkQ1) which also catalyzes FFA-dependent uncoupling revealed similar protective effects and downregulated expression of the NFκB-regulated genes (VCAM1, ICAM1, MCP1, and IL-6) involved in the inflammatory response of endothelium in aortas of the TNF-treated mice. In vitro mild uncoupling rescued from TNF-induced endothelial permeability, disassembly of cell contacts and VE-cadherin cleavage by the matrix metalloprotease 9 (ММР9). The uncouplers prevented TNF-induced expression of MMP9 via inhibition of NFκB signaling. Water-soluble antioxidant Trolox also prevented TNF-induced activation and permeability of endothelium in vitro via inhibition of NFκB signaling, suggesting that the protective action of the uncouplers is linked to their antioxidant potential.
Increased serum level of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) causes endothelial dysfunction and leads to serious vascular pathologies. TNFα signaling is known to involve reactive oxygen species (ROS). Using mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQR1, we studied the role of mitochondrial ROS in TNFα-induced apoptosis of human endothelial cell line EAhy926. We found that 0.2 nM SkQR1 prevents TNFα-induced apoptosis. SkQR1 has no influence on TNFα-dependent proteolytic activation of caspase-8 and Bid, but it inhibits cytochrome c release from mitochondria and cleavage of caspase-3 and its substrate PARP. SkQ analogs lacking the antioxidant moieties do not prevent TNFα-induced apoptosis. The antiapoptotic action of SkQR1 may be related to other observations made in these experiments, namely SkQR1-induced increase in Bcl-2 and corresponding decrease in Bax as well as p53. These results indicate that mitochondrial ROS production is involved in TNFα-initiated endothelial cell death, and they suggest the potential of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants as vasoprotectors.
In endothelial cells, mitochondria play an important regulatory role in physiology as well as in pathophysiology related to excessive inflammation. We have studied the effect of low doses of mitochondrial uncouplers on inflammatory activation of endothelial cells using the classic uncouplers 2,4-dinitrophenol and 4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2-trifluoromethylbenzimidazole, as well as the mitochondria-targeted cationic uncoupler dodecyltriphenylphosphonium (C12TPP). All of these uncouplers suppressed the expression of E-selectin, adhesion molecules ICAM1 and VCAM1, as well as the adhesion of neutrophils to endothelium induced by tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The antiinflammatory action of the uncouplers was at least partially mediated by the inhibition of NFκB activation due to a decrease in phosphorylation of the inhibitory subunit IκBα. The dynamic concentration range for the inhibition of ICAM1 expression by C12TPP was three orders of magnitude higher compared to the classic uncouplers. Probably, the decrease in membrane potential inhibited the accumulation of penetrating cations into mitochondria, thus lowering the uncoupling activity and preventing further loss of mitochondrial potential. Membrane potential recovery after the removal of the uncouplers did not abolish its antiinflammatory action. Thus, mild uncoupling could induce TNF resistance in endothelial cells. We found no significant stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis or autophagy by the uncouplers. However, we observed a decrease in the relative amount of fragmented mitochondria. The latter may significantly change the signaling properties of mitochondria. Earlier we showed that both classic and mitochondria-targeted antioxidants inhibited the TNF-induced NFκB-dependent activation of endothelium. The present data suggest that the antiinflammatory effect of mild uncoupling is related to its antioxidant action.
A new mitochondria-targeted probe MitoCLox was designed as a starting compound for a series of probes sensitive to cardiolipin (CL) peroxidation. Fluorescence microscopy reported selective accumulation of MitoCLox in mitochondria of diverse living cell cultures and its oxidation under stress conditions, particularly those known to cause a selective cardiolipin oxidation. Ratiometric fluorescence measurements using flow cytometry showed a remarkable dependence of the MitoCLox dynamic range on the oxidation of the sample. Specifically, MitoCLox oxidation was induced by low doses of hydrogen peroxide or organic hydroperoxide. The mitochondria-targeted antioxidant 10-(6′-plastoquinonyl)decyltriphenyl-phosphonium (SkQ1), which was shown earlier to selectively protect cardiolipin from oxidation, prevented hydrogen peroxide-induced MitoCLox oxidation in the cells. Concurrent tracing of MitoCLox oxidation and membrane potential changes in response to hydrogen peroxide addition showed that the oxidation of MitoCLox started without a delay and was complete during the first hour, whereas the membrane potential started to decay after 40 minutes of incubation. Hence, MitoCLox could be used for splitting the cell response to oxidative stress into separate steps. Application of MitoCLox revealed heterogeneity of the mitochondrial population; in living endothelial cells, a fraction of small, rounded mitochondria with an increased level of lipid peroxidation were detected near the nucleus. In addition, the MitoCLox staining revealed a specific fraction of cells with an increased level of oxidized lipids also in the culture of human myoblasts. The fraction of such cells increased in high-density cultures. These specific conditions correspond to the initiation of spontaneous myogenesis in vitro, which indicates that oxidation may precede the onset of myogenic differentiation. These data point to a possible participation of oxidized CL in cell signalling and differentiation.
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