Previous studies demonstrated an important role for connexin 43 (Cx43) in the regulation of apoptosis by influencing mitochondrial functions. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between Cx43 and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
Western blot was performed to determine mitochondrial Cx43 (MtCx43) protein level and phosphorylation (p-MtCx43). Gap19, a selective Cx43 inhibitor, was used to examine the effects of Cx43 on LPS-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in HUVECs. Expression of regulatory genes associated with oxidative stress was examined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blot. Apoptosis was assessed by flow cytometry.
LPS stimulation resulted in increased levels of MtCx43 and p-MtCx43. Interestingly, Gap19 antagonized the upregulation of glutathione S-transferase Zeta 1 (GSTZ1) and cytochrome b alpha beta (CYBB), and the downregulation of antioxidant 1 (ATOX1), glutathione synthetase (GSS) and heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1) induced by LPS or Cx43 overexpression. Moreover, the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptosis elicited by LPS or Cx43 overexpression were reduced following treatment with Gap19.
Selective inhibition of Cx43 hemichannels protects HUVECs from LPS-induced apoptosis and this may be via a reduction in oxidative stress production.