Hyperuricemia enhances intracellular urate accumulation via down-regulation of cell-surface BCRP/ABCG2 expression in vascular endothelial cells

Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr. 2018 May;1860(5):973-980. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2018.01.006. Epub 2018 Jan 6.


Hyperuricemia has been recognized as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Urate stimulates NADPH oxidase and induces production of reactive oxygen species (ROS); consequently, intracellular urate accumulation can induce oxidative stress leading to endothelial dysfunction. Here, we studied the mechanism involved, using human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) as a model. Pretreatment with 15 mg/dL unlabeled uric acid (corresponding to hyperuricemia) resulted in increased uptake of [14C]uric acid at steady-state by HUVEC, whereas pretreatment with 5 mg/dL uric acid (in the normal serum concentration range) did not. However, the initial uptake rate of [14C]uric acid was not affected by uric acid at either concentration. These results suggest that efflux transport of uric acid is decreased under hyperuricemic conditions. We observed a concomitant decrease of phosphorylated endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Plasma membrane expression of breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), a uric acid efflux transporter, was decreased under hyperuricemia, though the total cellular expression of BCRP remained constant. Uric acid did not affect expression of another uric acid efflux transporter, multidrug resistance associated protein 4 (MRP4). Moreover, phosphorylation of Akt, which regulates plasma membrane localization of BCRP, was decreased. These uric acid-induced changes of BCRP and Akt were reversed in the presence of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. These results suggest that in hyperuricemia, uric acid-induced ROS generation inhibits Akt phosphorylation, causing a decrease in plasma membrane localization of BCRP, and the resulting decrease of BCRP-mediated efflux leads to increased uric acid accumulation and dysregulation of endothelial function.

Keywords: Akt; BCRP/ABCG2; Reactive oxygen species; Trafficking; Uric acid; Vascular endothelial cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2 / genetics*
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2 / metabolism*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperuricemia / genetics*
  • Hyperuricemia / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Uric Acid / metabolism*


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • Antioxidants
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Uric Acid