Reactive lipid aldehydes are implicated in the pathogenesis of various oxidative stress-mediated diseases, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's and cataract. In the present study, we sought to define which hepatic Aldh isoform plays a major role in detoxification of lipid-derived aldehydes, such as acrolein and HNE by enzyme kinetic and gene expression studies. The catalytic efficiencies for metabolism of acrolein by Aldh1a1 was comparable to that of Aldh3a1 (V(max)/K(m)=23). However, Aldh1a1 exhibits far higher affinity for acrolein (K(m)=23.2 μM) compared to Aldh3a1 (K(m)=464 μM). Aldh1a1 displays a 3-fold higher catalytic efficiency for HNE than Aldh3a1 (218 ml/min/mg vs 69 ml/min/mg). The endogenous Aldh1a1 gene was highly expressed in mouse liver and a liver-derived cell line (Hepa-1c1c7) compared to Aldh2, Aldh1b1 and Aldh3a1. Aldh1a1 mRNA levels was 34-fold and 73-fold higher than Aldh2 in mouse liver and Hepa-1c1c7 cells respectively. Aldh3a1 gene was absent in mouse liver, but moderately expressed in Hepa-1c1c7 cells compared to Aldh1a1. We demonstrated that knockdown of Aldh1a1 expression by siRNA caused Hepa-1c1c7 cells to be more sensitive to acrolein-induced cell death and resulted in increased accumulation of acrolein-protein adducts and caspase 3 activation. These results indicate that Aldh1a1 plays a major role in cellular defense against oxidative damage induced by reactive lipid aldehydes in mouse liver. We also noted that hepatic Aldh1a1 mRNA levels were significantly increased (≈3-fold) in acrolein-fed mice compared to control. In addition, hepatic cytosolic ALDH activity was induced by acrolein when 1mM NAD(+) was used as cofactor, suggesting an Aldh1a1-protective mechanism against acrolein toxicity in mice liver. Thus, mechanisms to induce Aldh1a1 gene expression may provide a useful rationale for therapeutic protection against oxidative stress-induced pathologies.
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