Epigenetic regulation of vascular NADPH oxidase expression and reactive oxygen species production by histone deacetylase-dependent mechanisms in experimental diabetes

Redox Biol. 2018 Jun;16:332-343. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.03.011. Epub 2018 Mar 17.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by up-regulated NADPH oxidase (Nox) contribute to structural-functional alterations of the vascular wall in diabetes. Epigenetic mechanisms, such as histone acetylation, emerged as important regulators of gene expression in cardiovascular disorders. Since their role in diabetes is still elusive we hypothesized that histone deacetylase (HDAC)-dependent mechanisms could mediate vascular Nox overexpression in diabetic conditions. Non-diabetic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic C57BL/6J mice were randomized to receive vehicle or suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), a pan-HDAC inhibitor. In vitro studies were performed on a human aortic smooth muscle cell (SMC) line. Aortic SMCs typically express Nox1, Nox4, and Nox5 subtypes. HDAC1 and HDAC2 proteins along with Nox1, Nox2, and Nox4 levels were found significantly elevated in the aortas of diabetic mice compared to non-diabetic animals. Treatment of diabetic mice with SAHA mitigated the aortic expression of Nox1, Nox2, and Nox4 subtypes and NADPH-stimulated ROS production. High concentrations of glucose increased HDAC1 and HDAC2 protein levels in cultured SMCs. SAHA significantly reduced the high glucose-induced Nox1/4/5 expression, ROS production, and the formation malondialdehyde-protein adducts in SMCs. Overexpression of HDAC2 up-regulated the Nox1/4/5 gene promoter activities in SMCs. Physical interactions of HDAC1/2 and p300 proteins with Nox1/4/5 promoters were detected at the sites of active transcription. High glucose induced histone H3K27 acetylation enrichment at the promoters of Nox1/4/5 genes in SMCs. The novel data of this study indicate that HDACs mediate vascular Nox up-regulation in diabetes. HDAC inhibition reduces vascular ROS production in experimental diabetes, possibly by a mechanism involving negative regulation of Nox expression.

Keywords: Diabetes; Epigenetics; HDAC; Histone acetylation; NADPH oxidase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / enzymology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / enzymology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • NADPH Oxidase 1 / genetics*
  • NADPH Oxidase 4 / genetics*
  • NADPH Oxidase 5 / genetics*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADPH Oxidase 1
  • NADPH Oxidase 4
  • NADPH Oxidase 5
  • NOX1 protein, mouse
  • Nox4 protein, mouse
  • Histone Deacetylases