Aims/hypothesis: Because oxidative stress has been suggested to be a significant contributing factor in the development of endothelial dysfunction and insulin resistance, we investigated whether reactive oxygen species contribute to insulin resistance by impairing insulin uptake through an effect on endothelial insulin receptor function.
Methods: Following a 2-h pro-oxidant challenge with xanthine oxidase, we examined the temporal pattern of insulin processing in the human umbilical endothelial cell line Ea.Hy926 and bovine aortic endothelial cells equilibrated with [125I]-insulin. Insulin receptor mRNA concentrations were analysed by RT-PCR and insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and protein concentrations were estimated by western blotting.
Results: Xanthine oxidase exposure resulted in a major reduction in total insulin receptor-mediated [125I]-insulin internalization over a 1-h period in both Ea.Hy926 and bovine aortic endothelial cells. After 15 min, untreated bovine aortic endothelial cells internalized fivefold more cell-bound [125I]-insulin than pro-oxidant treated cells. The [125I]-insulin disappeared from the cell surface at a similar rate in both pro-oxidant and untreated cells, with relatively more [125I]-insulin being released into the medium in pro-oxidant treated cells. Although xanthine oxidase reduced insulin receptor mRNA and protein concentrations, cell surface insulin binding capacity was not affected. Following 5 min insulin exposure, insulin receptor auto-phosphorylation was considerably reduced in cells challenged with xanthine oxidase for 2 h, which could be important for insulin receptor activation and internalization.
Conclusion/interpretation: Oxidative stress impairs insulin endocytosis in both arterial and venous endothelial cell lines. This was not a consequence of modified insulin binding capacity but could involve insufficient insulin receptor activation.