AMPKα1 regulates the antioxidant status of vascular endothelial cells

Sergio L. Colombo, Salvador Moncada

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) is a key regulator of cellular energy because of its capacity to detect changes in the concentration of AMP. Recent evidence, however, indicates the existence of alternative mechanisms of activation of this protein. Mitochondrial ROS (reactive oxygen species), generated as a result of the interaction between nitric oxide and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase, activate AMPKα1 in HUVECs (human umbilical-vein endothelial cells) at a low oxygen concentration (i.e. 3%). This activation is independent of changes in AMP. In the present study we show, using HUVECs in which AMPKα1 has been silenced, that this protein is responsible for the expression of genes involved in antioxidant defence, such as manganese superoxide dismutase, catalase, γ-glutamylcysteine synthase and thioredoxin. Furthermore, peroxisome proliferator-activated- coactivator-1, cAMP-response-element-binding protein and Foxo3a (forkhead transcription factor 3a) are involved in this signalling pathway. In addition, we show that silencing AMPKα1 in cells results in a reduced mitochondrial and eNOS (endothelial NO synthase) content, reduced cell proliferation, increased accumulation of ROS and apoptosis. Thus AMPKα1 in HUVECs regulates both their mitochondrial content and their antioxidant defences. Pharmacological activation of AMPKα1 in the vascular endothelium may be beneficial in conditions such as metabolic syndrome. Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis, not only because of its bioenergetic effects but also because of its ability to counteract oxidative stress. © The Authors Journal compilation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-169
    Number of pages6
    JournalBiochemical Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2009


    • AMP-activated protein kinase α1 (AMPKα1)
    • Antioxidant
    • Human umbilical-vein endothelial cell (HUVEC)
    • Hypoxia
    • Mitochondrion
    • Nitric oxide


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