BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Atherosclerosis is characterized by chronic low-grade inflammation with concomitant lipid accumulation in the arterial wall. Anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic properties have been described for a novel class of endogenous nitroalkenes (nitrated-unsaturated fatty acids), formed during inflammation and digestion/absorption processes. The lipid-associated antioxidant α-tocopherol is transported systemically by LDL particles including to the atheroma lesions. To capitalize on the overlapping and complementary salutary properties of endogenous nitroalkenes and α-tocopherol, we designed and synthesized a novel nitroalkene-α-tocopherol analogue (NATOH) to address chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis, particularly at the lesion sites.
We synthesized NATOH, determined its electrophilicity and antioxidant capacity and studied its effects over pro-inflammatory and cytoprotective pathways in macrophages in vitro. Moreover, we demonstrated its incorporation into lipoproteins and tissue both in vitro and in vivo, and determined its effect on atherosclerosis and inflammatory responses in vivo using the Apo E knockout mice model.
NATOH exhibited similar antioxidant capacity to α-tocopherol and, due to the presence of the nitroalkenyl group, like endogenous nitroalkenes, it exerted electrophilic reactivity. NATOH was incorporated in vivo into the VLDL/LDL lipoproteins particles to reach the atheroma lesions. Furthermore, oral administration of NATOH down-regulated NF-κB-dependent expression of pro-inflammatory markers (including IL-1β and adhesion molecules) and ameliorated atherosclerosis in Apo E knockout mice.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:
In toto, the data demonstrate a novel pharmacological strategy for the prevention of atherosclerosis based on a creative, natural and safe drug delivery system of a non-conventional anti-inflammatory compound (NATOH) with significant potential for clinical application.