ROS-AKT-mTOR axis mediates autophagy of human umbilical vein endothelial cells induced by cooking oil fumes-derived fine particulate matters in vitro

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Cooking oil fumes-derived PM2.5 (COFs-derived PM2.5) exposure can induce oxidative stress and cytotoxic effects. Here we investigated the role of ROS-AKT-mTOR axis in COFs-derived PM2.5-induced autophagy in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). HUVECs were treated with different concentrations of COFs-derived PM2.5, together with or without N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC, a radical scavenger) or 3-methyladenine (3-MA, an autophagy inhibitor). Cell viability was assessed with MTT assay, and ROS level was measured with DCFH-DA assay after the treatment. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to evaluate the formation of autophagosomes, while immunofluorescent assay and western blot were used to assess the expression of LC3-I/II and beclin 1. Proteins involved in the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway were measured with western blot. The results showed that the treatment of COFs-derived PM2.5 dose-dependently reduced the viability of HUVECs and increased the ROS levels in the cells. Both immunofluorescent assay and western blot showed that treatment with COFs-derived PM2.5 significantly increased LC3-II and beclin 1 levels, as well as the ratio of LC3-II/LC3-I, which could be rescued by the co-incubation with NAC or 3-MA. TEM also confirmed the increased formation of autophagosomes in the cells treated with COFs-derived PM2.5, while co-treatment with NAC evidently decreased autophagosomes formation. In addition, western blot also showed that the phosphorylation of PI3K, AKT, and mTOR all decreased by the treatment of COFs-derived PM2.5, which was effectively rescued by the co-treatment with NAC. These findings demonstrate ROS-AKT-mTOR axis plays a critical role in HUVECs autophagy induced by COFs-derived PM2.5.Graphical abstractHighlightsCOFs-derived PM2.5 reduced cell viability and induced reactive oxygen species (ROS).COFs-derived PM2.5 induced autophagy via the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway.The autophagy induced by COFs-derived PM2.5 is triggered by ROS.

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