METHODS: Expression of TRAIL and TRAIL receptor in response to insulin and glucose was determined by polymerase chain reaction. Transcriptional activity was assessed using wild-type and site-specific mutations of the TRAIL promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies were performed. VSMC proliferation and apoptosis was measured.
RESULTS: Insulin and glucose exposure to VSMC for 24 h stimulated TRAIL mRNA expression. This was also evident at the transcriptional level. Both insulin- and glucose-inducible TRAIL transcriptional activity was blocked by dominant-negative specificity protein-1 (Sp1) overexpression. There are five functional Sp1-binding elements (Sp1-1, Sp1-2, Sp-5/6 and Sp1-7) on the TRAIL promoter. Insulin required the Sp1-1 and Sp1-2 sites, but glucose needed all Sp1-binding sites to induce transcription. Furthermore, insulin (but not glucose) was able to promote VSMC proliferation over time, associated with increased decoy receptor-2 (DcR2) expression. In contrast, chronic 5-day exposure of VSMC to 1 µg/mL insulin repressed TRAIL and DcR2 expression, and reduced Sp1 enrichment on the TRAIL promoter. This was associated with increased cell death.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of the present study provide a new mechanistic insight into how TRAIL is regulated by insulin. This may have significant implications at different stages of diabetes-associated cardiovascular disease. Thus, TRAIL may offer a novel therapeutic solution to combat insulin-induced vascular pathologies.