Nrf2 regulates antioxidant gene expression evoked by oxidized phospholipids in endothelial cells and murine arteries in vivo

Henna Kaisa Jyrkkänen, Emilia Kansanen, Matias Inkala, Annukka M. Kivela, Hanna Hurttila, Suvi E. Heinonen, Gundars Goldsteins, Suvi Jauhiainen, Satu Tiainen, Harri Makkonen, Olga Oskolkova, Taras Afonyushkin, Jari Koistinaho, Masayuki Yamamoto, Valery N. Bochkov, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, Anna Liisa Levonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Besides their well-characterized proinflammatory and proatherogenic effects, oxidized phospholipids, such as oxPAPC (oxidized 1-palmitoyl-2- arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-phosphocholine) have been shown to have beneficial responses in vascular cells via induction of antioxidant enzymes such as heme oxygenase-1. We therefore hypothesized that oxPAPC could evoke a general cytoprotective response via activation of antioxidative transcription factor Nrf2. Here, we show that oxPAPC increases nuclear accumulation of Nrf2. Using the small interfering RNA approach, we demonstrate that Nrf2 is critical in mediating the induction of glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM) and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase-1 (NQ01) by oxPAPC in human endothelial cells, whereas the contribution to the induction of heme oxygenase-1 was less significant. The induction of GCLM and NQ01 was attenuated by reduction of electrophilic groups with sodium borohydrate, as well as treatment with thiol antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, suggesting that the thiol reactivity of oxPAPC is largely mediating its effect on Nrf2-responsive genes. Moreover, we show that oxidized phospholipid having a highly electrophilic isoprostane ring in its sn-2 position is a potent inducer of Nrf2 target genes. Finally, we demonstrate that the oxPAPC-inducible expression of heme oxygenase-1, GCLM, and NQ01 is lower in Nrf2-null than wild-type mouse carotid arteries in vivo. We suggest that the activation of Nrf2 by oxidized phospholipids provides a mechanism by which their deleterious effects are limited in the vasculature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e9
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul 3


  • Antioxidant response element
  • Electrophile response element
  • Nrf2
  • Oxidized phospholipids


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