Apoptosis. 2012 Jan;17(1):25-36.
- Vascular endothelial cell (VEC) apoptosis is the main event occurring during the development of atherosclerosis. Pterostilbene (PT), a natural dimethylated analog of resveratrol, has been the subject of intense research in cancer and inflammation. However, the protective effects of PT against oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL)-induced apoptosis in VECs have not been clarified. We investigated the anti-apoptotic effects of PT in vitro and in vivo in mice. PT at 0.1-5 μM possessed antioxidant properties comparable to that of trolox in a cell-free system. Exposure of human umbilical vein VECs (HUVECs) to oxLDL (200 μg/ml) induced cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation, nuclear fragmentation, and cell apoptosis, but PT protected against such injuries. In addition, PT injection strongly decreased the number of TUNEL-positive cells in the endothelium of atherosclerotic plaque from apoE(-/-) mice. OxLDL increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, NF-κB activation, p53 accumulation, apoptotic protein levels and caspases-9 and -3 activities and decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and cytochrome c release in HUVECs. These alterations were attenuated by pretreatment with PT. PT inhibited the expression of lectin-like oxLDL receptor-1 (LOX-1) expression in vitro and in vivo. Cotreatment with PT and siRNA of LOX-1 synergistically reduced oxLDL-induced apoptosis in HUVECs. Overexpression of LOX-1 attenuated the protection by PT and suppressed the effects of PT on oxLDL-induced oxidative stress. PT may protect HUVECs against oxLDL-induced apoptosis by downregulating LOX-1-mediated activation through a pathway involving oxidative stress, p53, mitochondria, cytochrome c and caspase protease. PT might be a potential natural anti-apoptotic agent for the treatment of atherosclerosis.