Modulation by α- and γ-tocopherol and oxidized low-density lipoprotein of apoptotic signaling in human coronary smooth muscle cells

Filomena De Nigris, Flavia Franconi, Ivana Maida, Giuseppe Palumbo, Vittorio Anania, Claudio Napoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apoptosis may play an important role in atherogenesis. Oxidized low- density lipoprotein (oxLDL) promotes apoptosis in the arterial wall in addition to several other proatherogenic effects. Tocopherol supplements have been suggested to protect against coronary heart disease (CHD) in epidemiological studies. The effects of oxLDL and α- and γ-tocopherol on apoptotic signaling pathways are poorly understood. Thus, the goal of the study was to investigate these pathways in the presence of copper-oxidized LDL and tocopherols in human coronary smooth muscle cells (SMC). We showed that oxLDL-mediated apoptosis, assessed by DNA fragmentation, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, and caspase activation stimulated several transcription factors and proapoptotic dynamic movements of the Bcl-2 family proteins through the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Jun kinase pathways. α- Tocopherol and γ-tocopherol significantly reduced these molecular events and cell death effectors caspase-3 and -8. Under our experimental conditions, α- tocopherol was significantly more effective than γ-tocopherol, and oxLDL- mediated apoptosis increased c-Jun, cyclic AMP-responsive element-binding, Ets-like element kinase-dependent 7, and activating transcription factor-2 proteins as well as nuclear activity of the activated protein-1 complex in human coronary SMC. Moreover, our results demonstrate that tocopherols may exert their antiatherogenic effects at least in part via reduction of the MAPK and JunK cascade together with a protective profile of apoptotic genes of the Bcl-2 family. These data are consistent with the beneficial effects of tocopherols on atherogenesis seen in experimental studies and on CHD in epidemiological surveys. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1487
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2000


  • α-tocopherol
  • γ-tocopherol
  • Apoptosis, SMC
  • CHD
  • LDL
  • Oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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