Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has a protective role against atherosclerosis, most likely mediating an antiinflammatory action. In order to understand the mechanisms involved in this protection, we evaluated the effects of DHEA on several molecules involved in the inflammatory response. Reactive oxygen species (ROS), expression of adhesion molecules, activation of the NF-κB/IκB-α pathway and of the AP-1 transcription factor were evaluated in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) treated with oxidized low density lipoproteins (oxLDL) and DHEA. We also determined if DHEA affected LDL oxidation in vitro. 100 μM DHEA-treatment inhibited the oxLDL-induced expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1, PECAM-1, ROS production, and U937 cells adhesion to HUVECs. DHEA also delayed the kinetics of LDL oxidation in vitro. While DHEA did not affect the translocation of NF-κB neither the degradation IκB-α, it led to an increased translocation of AP-1. Our results suggest that DHEA inhibits the expression of molecules involved in the inflammatory process in endothelial cells activated with oxLDL, therefore its potential anti-inflammatory properties should be evaluated for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis.
Keywords: DHEA, LDL, endothelial cells, inflammation, cell adhesion, ROS, NF-κB, AP-1
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