AIMS: Maslinic acid (MA) is a naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpene known to exert cardioprotective effects. This study aims to investigate the involvement of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) for MA-mediated anti-inflammatory effects in atheroma pathogenesis in vitro, including evaluation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)-induced monocyte recruitment, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL)-induced scavenger receptors expression, and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-ĸB) activity in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECS) and human acute monocytic leukemia cell line (THP-1) macrophages.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An in vitro monocyte recruitment model utilizing THP-1 and HUVECs was developed to evaluate TNF-α-induced monocyte adhesion and trans-endothelial migration. To study the role of Nrf2 for MA-mediated anti-inflammatory effects, Nrf2 inhibitor ML385 was used as the pharmacological inhibitor. The expression of Nrf2, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36), and scavenger receptor type A (SR-A) in HUVECs and THP-1 macrophages were investigated using RT-qPCR and Western blotting. The NF-κB activity was determined using NF-κB (p65) Transcription Factor Assay Kit.
KEY FINDINGS: The results showed opposing effects of MA on Nrf2 expression in HUVECs and THP-1 macrophages. MA suppressed TNF-α-induced Nrf2 expression in HUVECs, but enhanced its expression in THP-1 macrophages. Combined effects of MA and ML385 suppressed MCP-1, VCAM-1, and SR-A expressions. Intriguingly, at the protein level, ML385 selectively inhibited SR-A but enhanced CD36 expression. Meanwhile, ML385 further enhanced MA-mediated inhibition of NF-κB activity in HUVECs. This effect, however, was not observed in THP-1 macrophages.
SIGNIFICANCE: MA attenuated foam cell formation by suppressing VCAM-1, MCP-1, and SR-A expression, as well as NF-κB activity, possibly through Nrf2 inhibition. The involvement of Nrf2 for MA-mediated anti-inflammatory effects however differs between HUVECs and macrophages. Future investigations are warranted for a detailed evaluation of the contributing roles of Nrf2 in foam cells formation.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.