Background: This study examined whether alpha lipoic acid (ALA), an antioxidant with anti-apoptotic properties, synthesized in mitochondria of endothelial cells, would inhibit intrinsic apoptotic signaling and microvascular endothelial cell hyperpermeability.
Methods: Rat lung microvascular endothelial cells were transfected with BAK (BH3) peptide (5 microg/mL) or active caspase-3 (5 microg/mL) and were pretreated with ALA (10 and 100 micromol/L). Hyperpermeability was determined using fluorescein isothiocyanate albumin-flux across the cells grown as monolayer. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation was determined using 123 dihydrorhodamine and mitochondrial membrane potential using JC-1. Cytochrome c levels and caspase-3 activity were determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a fluorometric assay, respectively.
Results: ALA (100 micromol/L) pretreatment attenuated BAK (BH3)-induced hyperpermeability and ROS formation. ALA restored BAK (BH3)-induced collapse in mitochondrial membrane potential and decreased BAK (BH3)-induced cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activity.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that ALA attenuates BAK-induced monolayer hyperpermeability through the inhibition of ROS formation and intrinsic apoptotic signaling.