Background and Purpose: 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and its prodrug, capecitabine, can damage endothelial cells, whilst endothelial integrity is preserved by glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Here, we studied the effect of 5FU on endothelial senescence and whether GLP-1 antagonizes it. Experimental Approach: EA.hy926 cells were exposed to 5FU or sera from patients taking capecitabine, with or without pre-incubation with GLP-1. Senescence was identified by expression of senescence-associated β-galactosidase and p16INK4a and reduced cell proliferation. Soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and CD146 (marker of endothelial injury) were measured by ELISA before and at completion of capecitabine chemotherapy. RT-PCR, western blotting, functional experiments with signalling inhibitors and ERK1/2 silencing were performed to characterize 5FU-induced phenotype and elucidate the pathways underlying 5FU and GLP-1 activity. Key Results: Both 5FU and sera from capecitabine-treated patients stimulated endothelial cell senescence. 5FU-elicited senescence occurred via activation of p38 and JNK, and was associated with decreased eNOS and SIRT-1 levels. Furthermore, 5FU up-regulated VCAM1 and TYMP (encodes enzyme activating capecitabine and 5FU), and sVCAM-1 and CD146 concentrations were higher after than before capecitabine chemotherapy. A non-significant trend for higher ICAM1 levels was also observed. GLP-1 counteracted 5FU-initiated senescence and reduced eNOS and SIRT-1 expression, this protection being mediated by GLP-1 receptor, ERK1/2 and, possibly, PKA and PI3K. Conclusions and Implications: 5FU causes endothelial cell senescence and dysfunction, which may contribute to its cardiovascular side effects. 5FU-triggered senescence was prevented by GLP-1, raising the possibility of using GLP-1 analogues and degradation inhibitors to treat 5FU and capecitabine vascular toxicity. Linked Articles: This article is part of a themed section on New Insights into Cardiotoxicity Caused by Chemotherapeutic Agents. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.21/issuetoc.
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