Involvement of glutathione/glutathione S-transferase antioxidant system in butyrate-inhibited vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation

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Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation is an important etiological factor in vascular proliferative diseases such as primary atherosclerosis, hypertension, arterial and in-stent restenosis, and transplant vasculopathy. Our studies established that butyrate, a bacterial fermentation product of dietary fiber and a chromatin modulator, is a potent inhibitor of VSMC proliferation. The cardiovascular health benefits of a high-fiber diet, the principle source of butyrate in the body, have been known for a long time, however, very little is known about the antiatherogenic potential of butyrate. Because oxidative stress plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, we examined involvement of the glutathione/glutathione S-transferase (GST) antioxidant system in butyrate's inhibition of VSMC proliferation. Treatment of proliferating VSMCs with butyrate leads to the induction of several GSTs. Interestingly, our study also demonstrated the nuclear localization of GST-P1 (GST-7-7), which is considered to be a cytosolic protein; this was demonstrated using immunostaining and was corroborated by western blotting. Also, the butyrate-induced antiproliferative action, and the induction of GST-P1 and its nuclear localization are downregulated when butyrate is withdrawn. Furthermore, assessment of intracellular glutathione levels reveals their augmentation by butyrate. Conversely, butyrate treatment reduces the levels of reactive oxygen species in VSMCs. Collectively, the butyrate-treatment-related increase in glutathione content, the reduction in reactive oxygen species, the upregulation of GST and the nuclear localization of GST-P1 in growth-arrested VSMCs imply that butyrate's antiproliferative action involves modulation of the cellular redox state. Thus, induction of the glutathione/GST antioxidant system appears to have other regulatory role(s) besides detoxification and regulation of the cellular redox state, for example, cell-cycle control and cell proliferation, which are both critical to atherogenesis.

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