Sitagliptin attenuates endothelial dysfunction independent of its blood glucose controlling effect

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2021 Sep 1;25(5):425-437. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2021.25.5.425.


Although the contributions of sitagliptin to endothelial dysfunction in diabetes mellitus were previously reported, the mechanisms still undefined. Autophagy plays an important role in the development of diabetes mellitus, but its role in diabetic macrovascular complications is unclear. This study aims to observe the effect of sitagliptin on macrovascular endothelium in diabetes and explore the role of autophagy in this process. Diabetic rats were induced through administration of high-fat diet and intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin. Then diabetic rats were treated with or without sitagliptin for 12 weeks. Endothelial damage and autophagy were measured. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were cultured either in normal glucose or in high glucose medium and intervened with different concentrations of sitagliptin. Rapamycin was used to induce autophagy. Cell viability, apoptosis and autophagy were detected. The expressions of proteins in c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-Bcl-2-Beclin-1 pathway were measured. Sitagliptin attenuated injuries of endothelium in vivo and in vitro. The expression of microtubuleassociated protein 1 light chain 3 II (LC3II) and beclin-1 were increased in aortas of diabetic rats and cells cultured with high-glucose, while sitagliptin inhibited the over-expression of LC3II and beclin-1. In vitro pre-treatment with sitagliptin decreased rapamycin-induced autophagy. However, after pretreatment with rapamycin, the protective effect of sitagliptin on endothelial cells was abolished. Further studies revealed sitagliptin increased the expression of Bcl-2, while inhibited the expression of JNK in vivo. Sitagliptin attenuates injuries of vascular endothelial cells caused by high glucose through inhibiting over-activated autophagy. JNK-Bcl-2-Beclin-1 pathway may be involved in this process.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Autophagy; Human umbilical vein endothelial cell; Sitagliptin phosphate; Streptozotocin diabetes.