Atherosclerosis is a major complication of diabetes. Up to 16 weeks of age, the db/db mouse is insulin-resistant and hyperglycemic and is a good model of Type 2 diabetes. After approximately 16 weeks of age, the mice develop pancreatic beta cell failure that can progress to a Type 1 diabetes phenotype. We have previously shown that glucose increases production of endothelial 12/15 lipoxygenase (12/15LO) products in vitro. In young 10-week-old Type 2 diabetic db/db mice, we found significant elevations in levels of urinary 12/15LO products, 12S-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12S-HETE) and 13S-hydroxyoctadecaenoic acid (13S-HODE) in vivo compared with C57BLKS/J mice. Using isolated primary aortic endothelial cells (ECs) from db/db mice and WEHI78/24 mouse monocyte cells in static adhesion assays, we found increased WEHI monocyte adhesion to db/db ECs (14 +/- 2 monocytes/field for db/db ECs versus 4 +/- 1 monocytes/field for C57BLKS/J ECs, p < 0.002). Thus, ECs from db/db mice appear to be "pre-activated" to bind monocytes. Analysis of db/db ECs revealed a 2-fold elevation in 12/15LO protein compared with C57BLKS/J EC. To determine that 12/15LO products were responsible for the increased monocyte adhesion observed with db/db ECs, we inhibited expression of murine 12/15LO using either an adenovirus expressing a ribozyme to 12/15LO (AdRZ) or with the 12/15LO inhibitor cinnamyl-3,4-dihydroxy-alpha-cyanocinnamate. Treatment of db/db ECs for 48 h with AdRZ or 4 h with 10 microm cinnamyl-3,4-dihydroxy-alpha-cyanocinnamate significantly reduced monocyte adhesion to db/db endothelium (p < 0.009). Thus, inhibition of the murine 12/15LO in db/db mice significantly reduced monocyte/endothelial interactions. We also found that adhesion of monocytes to diabetic db/db ECs was mediated by interactions of alpha4beta1 integrin on monocytes with endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 and connecting segment 1 fibronectin and interactions of beta2 integrins with endothelial intercellular adhesion molecule 1. In summary, regulation of the 12/15LO pathway is important for mediating early vascular changes in diabetes. Modulation of the 12/15LO pathway in the vessel wall may provide therapeutic benefit for early vascular inflammatory events in diabetes.