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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Pioglitazone Attenuates Atherosclerosis in Diabetic Mice by Inhibition of Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-Product (RAGE) Signaling

Hongli Gao, Hongwei Li, Weiping Li, Xuhua Shen, Beibing Di

Department of Cardiology, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:6121-6131

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.907401

Available online:

Published: 2017-12-26


BACKGROUND: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g (PPAR-g) exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties, and is protective against cardiovascular diseases. This study aimed to determine the effects of a PPAR-g agonist pioglitazone on atherogenesis in an ApoE knockout mouse (ApoE–/–) diabetic mouse model and in a cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) model.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Male ApoE–/– mice were rendered diabetic by 5 daily intraperitoneal injections of streptozotocin. Pioglitazone (20 mg/kg/d) or PPAR-γ inhibitor GW9662 (1 mg/kg/d) were administered for 12 weeks. At the end of treatment, mice were killed and the aortae were isolated. Oil Red O staining was used to evaluate atherosclerotic plaque area. H&E staining was used to evaluate the number of complicated plaques. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to determine the expression of advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) and PPAR-γ. The effects of pioglitazone and GW9662 on RAGE and PPAR-g expression were examined in cultured primary mouse VSMCs in hyperglycemic conditions.
RESULTS: Administration of pioglitazone in diabetic ApoE–/– mice successfully reduced atherosclerotic plaque area and the number of complicated plaques. Moreover, pioglitazone inhibited RAGE and stimulated PPAR-γ protein expression in atherosclerotic plaques of diabetic ApoE–/– mice. In cultured VSMCs upon high-glucose challenge, pioglitazone downregulated RAGE mRNA and protein expression. Blockade of PPAR-γ activity by GW9662 remarkably attenuated the inhibitory actions of pioglitazone on atherogenesis, both in diabetic ApoE–/– mice and in cultured VSMCs, upon high-glucose challenge.
CONCLUSIONS: Pioglitazone has a therapeutic effect on atherosclerosis in diabetes, and inhibition of RAGE signaling plays a critical role in mediating the beneficial effects of pioglitazone.

Keywords: atherosclerosis, Diabetes Mellitus, Muscle, Smooth, Vascular