Argirein alleviates vascular endothelial insulin resistance through suppressing the activation of Nox4-dependent O2- production in diabetic rats

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Insulin resistance in endothelial cells contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Therefore, there are great potential clinical implications in developing pharmacological interventions targeting endothelial insulin resistance. Our previous studies indicated that argirein which was developed by combining rhein with L-arginine by a hydrogen bond, could substantially relieved stress related exacerbation of cardiac failure and alleviated cardiac dysfunction in T2DM, which was associated with suppressing NADPH oxidase activity. However, it is unclear whether argirein treatment attenuates the vascular lesion and dysfunction in T2DM and its underlying mechanisms.

Methods and results:

The rat aortic endothelial cells (RAECs) were used to treat with palmitic acid (PA), a most common saturated free fatty acid, which could induce insulin resistance. It was showed that argirein increased glucose uptake and glucose transporter-4 (Glut4) expression and reversed the phosphorylation of IRS-1-ser307 and AKT-ser473, consequently resulting in the increase of the production of eNOS and NO in PA-induced RAECs. We further found that argirein blocked the Nox4-dependent superoxide (O2-.) generation, which regulated glucose metabolism in RAECs during PA stimulation. In vitro, argirein increased the release of endothelial NO to relieve the vasodilatory response to acetylcholine and insulin, and restored the expression of Nox4 and pIRS-1-ser307 in the aorta endothelium of high-fat diet (HFD)-fed rats following an injection of streptozocin (STZ).


These results suggested that argirein could improve endothelial insulin resistance which was attributed to inhibiting Nox4-dependent redox signaling in RAECs. These studies thus revealed the novel effect of argirein to prevent the vascular complication in T2DM.

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