Importance of mitochondrial calcium uniporter in high glucose–induced endothelial cell dysfunction

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Mitochondrial Ca2+ overload is implicated in hyperglycaemia-induced endothelial cell dysfunction, but the key molecular events responsible remain unclear. We examined the involvement of mitochondrial calcium uniporter, which mediates mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, in endothelial cell dysfunction resulting from high-glucose treatment.


Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were exposed to various glucose concentrations and to high glucose (30 mM) following mitochondrial calcium uniporter inhibition or activation with ruthenium red and spermine, respectively. Subsequently, mitochondrial calcium uniporter and mitochondrial calcium uniporter regulator 1 messenger RNA and protein expression was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. Ca2+ concentrations were analysed by laser confocal microscopy, and cytoplasmic and mitochondrial oxidative stress was detected using 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate and MitoSOX Red, respectively. Apoptosis was assessed by annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide staining, and a wound-healing assay was performed using an in vitro model.


High glucose markedly upregulated mitochondrial calcium uniporter and mitochondrial calcium uniporter regulator 1 messenger RNA expression, as well as protein production, in a dose- and time-dependent manner with a maximum effect demonstrated at 72 h and 30 mM glucose concentration. Moreover, high-glucose treatment significantly raised both mitochondrial and cytoplasmic Ca2+ and reactive oxygen species levels, increased apoptosis and compromised wound healing (all p < 0.05). These effects were enhanced by spermine and completely negated by ruthenium red, which are known to activate and inhibit mitochondrial calcium uniporter, respectively.


Mitochondrial calcium uniporter plays an important role in hyperglycaemia-induced endothelial cell dysfunction and may constitute a therapeutic target to reduce vascular complications in diabetes.

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