Diabetes mellitus in early pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects in infants. Maternal hyperglycemia stimulates the expression of nitric oxide synthase 2, which can be regulated by transcription factors of the nuclear factor-κB family. Increases in reactive nitrogen species generate intracellular stress conditions, including nitrosative, oxidative, and endoplasmic reticulum stresses, and trigger programmed cell death (or apoptosis) in the neural folds, resulting in neural tube defects in the embryo. Inhibiting nitric oxide synthase 2 can reduce neural tube defects; however, the underlying mechanisms require further delineation. Targeting nitric oxide synthase 2 and associated nitrosative stress using naturally occurring phytochemicals is a potential approach to preventing birth defects in diabetic pregnancies.OBJECTIVE:
This study aims to investigate the effect of quercetin-3-glucoside, a naturally occurring polyphenol flavonoid, in reducing maternal diabetes-induced neural tube defects in an animal model, and to delineate the molecular mechanisms underlying quercetin-3-glucoside action in regulating nitric oxide synthase 2 expression.STUDY DESIGN:
Female mice (C57BL/6) were induced to develop diabetes using streptozotocin before pregnancy. Diabetic pregnant mice were administered quercetin-3-glucoside (100 mg/kg) daily via gavage feeding, introduction of drug to the stomach directly via a feeding needle, during neurulation from embryonic day 6.5–9.5. After treatment at embryonic day 10.5, embryos were collected and examined for the presence of neural tube defects and apoptosis in the neural tube. Expression of nitric oxide synthase 2 and superoxide dismutase 1 (an antioxidative enzyme) was quantified using Western blot assay. Nitrosative, oxidative, and endoplasmic reticulum stress conditions were assessed using specific biomarkers. Expression and posttranslational modification of factors in the nuclear factor-κB system were investigated.RESULTS:
Treatment with quercetin-3-glucoside (suspended in water) significantly decreased neural tube defect rate and apoptosis in the embryos of diabetic mice, compared with those in the water-treated diabetic group (3.1% vs. 24.7%; P < .001). Quercetin-3-glucoside decreased the expression of nitric oxide synthase 2 and nitrosative stress (P < .05). It also increased the levels of superoxide dismutase 1 (P < .05), further increasing the antioxidative capacity of the cells. Quercetin-3-glucoside treatment also alleviated of endoplasmic reticulum stress in the embryos of diabetic mice (P < .05). Quercetin-3-glucoside reduced the levels of p65 (P < .05), a member of the nuclear factor-κB transcription factor family, but augmented the levels of the inhibitor of κBα (P < .05), which suppresses p65 nuclear translocation. In association with these changes, the levels of inhibitor of κB kinase-α and inhibitor of κBα phosphorylation were elevated (P < .05).CONCLUSION:
Quercetin-3-glucoside reduces the neural tube defects rate in the embryos of diabetic dams. Quercetin-3-glucoside suppresses nitric oxide synthase 2 and increases superoxide dismutase 1 expression, leading to alleviation of nitrosative, oxidative, and endoplasmic reticulum stress conditions. Quercetin-3-glucoside may regulate the expression of nitric oxide synthase 2 via modulating the nuclear factor-κB transcription regulation system. Quercetin-3-glucoside, a naturally occurring polyphenol that has high bioavailability and low toxicity, is a promising candidate agent to prevent birth defects in diabetic pregnancies.