Phenotypic modulation of endothelium to a dysfunctional state contributes to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, partly through the activation of the transcription factor NFkB. Several data indicate that magnesium deficiency caused by prolonged insufficient intake and/or defects in its homeostasis may be a missing link between diverse cardiovascular risk factors and atherosclerosis. Here we report that endothelial cells cultured in low magnesium rapidly activate NFkB, an event which is prevented by exposure to the anti-oxidant trolox. It is well known that NFkB activation correlates with marked alterations of the cytokine network. In the present study, we show that exposure of endothelial cells to low magnesium increases the secretion of RANTES, interleukin 8 and platelet derived growth factor BB, all important players in atherogenesis. Moreover, we describe the increased secretion of matrix metalloprotease-2 and -9 and of their inhibitor TIMP-2. Interestingly, by zymography we show that metalloprotease activity predominated over the inhibitory effect of TIMP-2. These results indicate that low magnesium promotes endothelial dysfunction by inducing pro-inflammatory and pro-atherogenic events.
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