Ethyl pyruvate inhibits oxidation of LDL in vitro and attenuates oxLDL toxicity in EA.hy926 cells

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 25;13(1):e0191477. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191477. eCollection 2018.


Background: Ethyl pyruvate (EP) exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. The aim of our study was to investigate whether EP is capable of inhibiting the oxidation of LDL, a crucial step in atherogenesis. Additionally, we examined whether EP attenuates the cytotoxic effects of highly oxidized LDL in the human vascular endothelial cell line EA.hy926.

Methods: Native LDL (nLDL) was oxidized using Cu2+ ions in the presence of increasing amounts of EP. The degree of LDL oxidation was quantified by measuring lipid hydroperoxide (LPO) and malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations, relative electrophoretic mobilities (REMs), and oxidation-specific immune epitopes. The cytotoxicity of these oxLDLs on EA.hy926 cells was assessed by measuring cell viability and superoxide levels. Furthermore, the cytotoxicity of highly oxidized LDL on EA.hy926 cells under increasing concentrations of EP in the media was assessed including measurements of high energy phosphates (ATP).

Results: Oxidation of nLDL using Cu2+ ions was remarkably inhibited by EP in a concentration-dependent manner, reflected by decreased levels of LPO, MDA, REM, oxidation-specific epitopes, and diminished cytotoxicity of the obtained oxLDLs in EA.hy926 cells. Furthermore, the cytotoxicity of highly oxidized LDL on EA.hy926 cells was remarkably attenuated by EP added to the media in a concentration-dependent manner reflected by a decrease in superoxide and an increase in viability and ATP levels.

Conclusions: EP has the potential for an anti-atherosclerotic drug by attenuating both, the oxidation of LDL and the cytotoxic effect of (already formed) oxLDL in EA.hy926 cells. Chronic administration of EP might be beneficial to impede the development of atherosclerotic lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cholesterol, LDL / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cholesterol, LDL / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / toxicity
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Pyruvates / metabolism*
  • Pyruvates / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Pyruvates
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • ethyl pyruvate
  • Malondialdehyde

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.