High-Glucose-Induced Endothelial Cell Injury Is Inhibited by a Peptide Derived from Human Apolipoprotein E


Department of Biology

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lthough the importance of human apolipoprotein E (apoE) in vascular diseases has clearly been established, most of the research on apoE has focused on its role in cholesterol metabolism. In view of the observation that apoE and its functional domains impact extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, we hypothesized that apoE could also confer protection against ECM degradation by mechanisms independent of its role in cholesterol and lipoprotein transport. The ECM degrading enzyme, heparanase, is secreted by cells as pro-heparanase that is internalized through low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor-related protein-1 (LRP-1) to become enzymatically active. Both apoE and pro-heparanase bind the LRP-1. We further hypothesized that an apoE mimetic peptide (apoEdp) would inhibit the production of active heparanase by blocking LRP-1-mediated uptake of pro-heparanase and thereby decrease degradation of the ECM. To test this hypothesis, we induced the expression of heparanase by incubating human retinal endothelial cells (hRECs) with high glucose (30 mM) for 72 hours. We found that elevated expression of heparanase by high glucose was associated with increased shedding of heparan sulfate (ΔHS) and the tight junction protein occludin. Treatment of hRECs with 100 μM apoEdp in the presence of high glucose significantly reduced the expression of heparanase, shedding of ΔHS, and loss of occludin as detected by Western blot analysis. Either eye drop treatment of 1% apoEdp topically 4 times a day for 14 consecutive days or intraperitoneal injection (40 mg/kg) of apoEdp daily for 14 consecutive days in an in vivo mouse model of streptozotocin-induced diabetes inhibited the loss of tight junction proteins occludin and zona occludin- 1 (ZO-1). These findings imply a functional relationship between apoE and endothelial cell matrix because the deregulation of these molecules can be inhibited by a short peptide derived from the receptor-binding region of apoE. Thus, strategies targeting ECM-degrading enzymes could be therapeutically beneficial for treating diabetic retinopathy.


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052152

PubMed ID: 23284911