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      Oxidative Stress in Cardiovascular Diseases: Involvement of Nrf2 Antioxidant Redox Signaling in Macrophage Foam Cells Formation

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          Oxidative stress is an important risk factor contributing to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. Oxidative stress that results from excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) production accounts for impaired endothelial function, a process which promotes atherosclerotic lesion or fatty streaks formation (foam cells). Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor involved in cellular redox homeostasis. Upon exposure to oxidative stress, Nrf2 is dissociated from its inhibitor Keap-1 and translocated into the nucleus, where it results in the transcriptional activation of cell defense genes. Nrf2 has been demonstrated to be involved in the protection against foam cells formation by regulating the expression of antioxidant proteins (HO-1, Prxs, and GPx1), ATP-binding cassette (ABC) efflux transporters (ABCA1 and ABCG1) and scavenger receptors (scavenger receptor class B (CD36), scavenger receptor class A (SR-A) and lectin-type oxidized LDL receptor (LOX-1)). However, Nrf2 has also been reported to exhibit pro-atherogenic effects. A better understanding on the mechanism of Nrf2 in oxidative stress-induced cardiac injury, as well as the regulation of cholesterol uptake and efflux, are required before it can serve as a novel therapeutic target for cardiovascular diseases prevention and treatment.

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          The Nrf2 cell defence pathway: Keap1-dependent and -independent mechanisms of regulation.

          The transcription factor Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) plays a vital role in maintaining cellular homeostasis, especially upon the exposure of cells to chemical or oxidative stress, through its ability to regulate the basal and inducible expression of a multitude of antioxidant proteins, detoxification enzymes and xenobiotic transporters. In addition, Nrf2 contributes to diverse cellular functions including differentiation, proliferation, inflammation and lipid synthesis and there is an increasing association of aberrant expression and/or function of Nrf2 with pathologies including cancer, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease. The activity of Nrf2 is primarily regulated via its interaction with Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1), which directs the transcription factor for proteasomal degradation. Although it is generally accepted that modification (e.g. chemical adduction, oxidation, nitrosylation or glutathionylation) of one or more critical cysteine residues in Keap1 represents a likely chemico-biological trigger for the activation of Nrf2, unequivocal evidence for such a phenomenon remains elusive. An increasing body of literature has revealed alternative mechanisms of Nrf2 regulation, including phosphorylation of Nrf2 by various protein kinases (PKC, PI3K/Akt, GSK-3β, JNK), interaction with other protein partners (p21, caveolin-1) and epigenetic factors (micro-RNAs -144, -28 and -200a, and promoter methylation). These and other processes are potentially important determinants of Nrf2 activity, and therefore may contribute to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Here, we dissect evidence supporting these Keap1-dependent and -independent mechanisms of Nrf2 regulation. Furthermore, we highlight key knowledge gaps in this important field of biology, and suggest how these may be addressed experimentally. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Scavenger receptors class A-I/II and CD36 are the principal receptors responsible for the uptake of modified low density lipoprotein leading to lipid loading in macrophages.

            Modification of low density lipoprotein (LDL) can result in the avid uptake of these lipoproteins via a family of macrophage transmembrane proteins referred to as scavenger receptors (SRs). The genetic inactivation of either of two SR family members, SR-A or CD36, has been shown previously to reduce oxidized LDL uptake in vitro and atherosclerotic lesions in mice. Several other SRs are reported to bind modified LDL, but their contribution to macrophage lipid accumulation is uncertain. We generated mice lacking both SR-A and CD36 to determine their combined impact on macrophage lipid uptake and to assess the contribution of other SRs to this process. We show that SR-A and CD36 account for 75-90% of degradation of LDL modified by acetylation or oxidation. Cholesteryl ester derived from modified lipoproteins fails to accumulate in macrophages taken from the double null mice, as assessed by histochemistry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. These results demonstrate that SR-A and CD36 are responsible for the preponderance of modified LDL uptake in macrophages and that other scavenger receptors do not compensate for their absence.
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              Pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

               Erling Falk (2006)
              Atherosclerosis is a multifocal, smoldering, immunoinflammatory disease of medium-sized and large arteries fuelled by lipids. Endothelial cells, leukocytes, and intimal smooth muscle cells are the major players in the development of this disease. The most devastating consequences of atherosclerosis, such as heart attack and stroke, are caused by superimposed thrombosis. Therefore, the vital question is not why atherosclerosis develops but rather why atherosclerosis, after years of indolent growth, suddenly becomes complicated with luminal thrombosis. If thrombosis-prone plaques could be detected and thrombosis averted, atherosclerosis would be a much more benign disease. Approximately 76% of all fatal coronary thrombi are precipitated by plaque rupture. Plaque rupture is a more frequent cause of coronary thrombosis in men (approximately 80%) than in women (approximately 60%). Ruptured plaques are characterized by a large lipid-rich core, a thin fibrous cap that contains few smooth muscle cells and many macrophages, angiogenesis, adventitial inflammation, and outward remodeling. Plaque rupture is the most common cause of coronary thrombosis. Ruptured plaques and, by inference, rupture-prone plaques have characteristic pathoanatomical features that might be useful for their detection in vivo by imaging. This article describes the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, how it begets thrombosis, and the possibility to detect thrombosis-prone plaques and prevent heart attack.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                05 November 2017
                November 2017
                : 18
                : 11
                [1 ]School of Biosciences, Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan 47500, Malaysia; ooibeekee@
                [2 ]School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway, Selangor Darul Ehsan 47500, Malaysia
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: goh.bey.hing@ (B.H.G.); weihsum.yap@ (W.H.Y.); Tel.: +60-3-5514-4487 (B.H.G.); Tel.: +60-3-5629-5091 (W.H.Y.)
                © 2017 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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