[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether insulin action on endothelial cells promotes or protects against atherosclerosis, we generated apolipoprotein E null mice in which the insulin receptor gene was intact or conditionally deleted in vascular endothelial cells. Insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, plasma lipids, and blood pressure were not different between the two groups, but atherosclerotic lesion size was more than 2-fold higher in mice lacking endothelial insulin signaling. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation was impaired and endothelial cell VCAM-1 expression was increased in these animals. Adhesion of mononuclear cells to endothelium in vivo was increased 4-fold compared with controls but reduced to below control values by a VCAM-1-blocking antibody. These results provide definitive evidence that loss of insulin signaling in endothelium, in the absence of competing systemic risk factors, accelerates atherosclerosis. Therefore, improving insulin sensitivity in the endothelium of patients with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes may prevent cardiovascular complications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) is a representative mediator of antioxidants and cytoprotectants against various stress stimuli including oxidants in vascular cells. Intensive insulin treatment can delay the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy and other vascularopathies, yet little is known about insulin regulation of anti-apoptotic and antioxidant molecules such as HO-1 in vascular cells. Intravitreous injection or in vitro addition of insulin increased HO-1 protein expression in rat retina and in cultured bovine retinal pericytes, retinal endothelial cells, and retinal pigment epithelial cells. In bovine retinal pericytes, insulin induced mRNA and protein expression of HO-1 in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Using HO-1 promoter analysis, the luciferase reporter assay showed that induction of HO-1 expression by insulin is mediated by additional response elements in the ho-1 promoter gene, which was not responsive to antioxidants. Insulin-induced HO-1 mRNA expression through activation of PI3-kinase/Akt pathway without affecting ERK and p38 MAPK. Overexpression of an adenoviral vector of native IRS1, IRS2, and Akt dominant negative or small interfering RNA transfection of Akt1 and Akt2 targeted gene demonstrated that insulin regulated HO-1 expression via IRS1 and Akt2 pathway, selectively. Further, insulin treatment prevented H(2)O(2)-induced NF-kappaB and caspase-8 activation and apoptosis via the IRS1/PI3K/Akt2/HO-1 pathway in the pericytes. In conclusion, we suggest that the anti-apoptotic properties of insulin are mediated partly by increasing HO-1 expression at transcriptional level via IRS1/PI3K/Akt2 activation, a potential explanation for how insulin is retarding the progression of microvascular complications induced by diabetes.