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PLOS ONE  2013 

Estrogen Receptor and PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathway Involvement in S-(-)Equol-Induced Activation of Nrf2/ARE in Endothelial Cells

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079075

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Abstract:

S-(-)equol, a natural product of the isoflavone daidzein, has been reported to offer cytoprotective effects with respect to the cardiovascular system, but how this occurs is unclear. Interestingly, S-(-)equol is produced by the human gut, suggesting a role in physiological processes. We report that treatment of human umbilical vein endothelial cells and EA.hy926 cells with S-(-)equol induces ARE-luciferase reporter gene activity that is dose and time dependent. S-(-)equol (10–250 nM) increases nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) as well as gene products of Nrf2 target genes heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H (nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide-phosp?hate)quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). Endothelial cells transfected with an HA-Nrf2 expression plasmid had elevated HA-Nrf2, HO-1, and NQO1 in response to S-(-)equol exposure. S-(-)equol treatment affected Nrf2 mRNA only slightly but significantly increased HO-1 and NQO1 mRNA. The pretreatment of cells with specific ER inhibitors or PI3K/Akt (ICI182,780 and LY294002) increased Nrf2, HO-1, and NQO1 protein, impaired nuclear translocation of HA-Nrf2, and decreased ARE-luciferase activity. Identical experiments were conducted with daidzein, which had effects similar to S-(-)equol. In addition, DPN treatment (an ERβ agonist) induced the ARE-luciferase reporter gene, promoting Nrf2 nuclear translocation. Cell pretreatment with an ERβ antagonist (PHTPP) impaired S-(-)equol-induced Nrf2 activation. Pre-incubation of cells followed by co-treatment with S-(-)equol significantly improved cell survival in response to H2O2 or tBHP and reduced apoptotic and TUNEL-positively-stained cells. Notably, the ability of S-(-)equol to protect against H2O2-induced cell apoptosis was attenuated in cells transfected with an siRNA against Nrf2. Thus, beneficial effects of S-(-)equol with respect to cytoprotective antioxidant gene activation may represent a novel strategy to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.

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