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Epidemiological studies have exhibited a strong correlation between exposure to air pollution and deaths due to vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. Benzo-a-pyrene-1,6-quinone (BP-1,6-Q) is one of the components of air pollution. This study was to examine the role of GSH in BP-1,6-Q mediated cytotoxicity in human EA.hy96 endothelial cells and demonstrated that induction of cellular glutathione by a potent triterpenoid, CDDO-Im (1-[2-cyano-3-,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oyl]imidazole), protects cells against BP-1,6-Q induced protein and lipid damage. Incubation of EA.hy926 endothelial cells with BP-1,6-Q caused a significant increase in dose-dependent cytotoxicity as measured by LDH release assay and both apoptotic and necrotic cell deaths as measured by flow cytometric analysis. Incubation of EA.hy926 endothelial cells with BP-1,6-Q also caused a significant decrease in cellular GSH levels. The diminishment of cellular GSH by buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) potentiated BP-1,6-Q-induced toxicity significantly suggesting a critical involvement of GSH in BP-1,6-Q induced cellular toxicity. GSH-induction by CDDO-Im significantly protects cells against BP-1,6-Q induced protein and lipid damage as measured by protein carbonyl (PC) assay and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) assay, respectively. However, the co-treatment of cells with CDDO-Im and BSO reversed the cytoprotective effect of CDDO-Im on BP-1,6-Q-mediated lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation. These results suggest that induction of GSH by CDDO-Im might be the important cellular defense against BP-1,6-Q induced protein and lipid damage. These findings would contribute to better understand the action of BP-1,6-Q and may help to develop novel therapies to protect against BP-1,6-Q-induced atherogenesis.


Halley Shukla, Ho Young Lee, Ashkon Koucheki, Humaira A Bibi, Gabriella Gaje, Xiaolun Sun, Hong Zhu, Y Robert Li, Zhenquan Jia. Targeting glutathione with the triterpenoid CDDO-Im protects against benzo-a-pyrene-1,6-quinone-induced cytotoxicity in endothelial cells. Molecular and cellular biochemistry. 2020 Nov;474(1-2):27-39

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PMID: 32715408

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