Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 8 pp 11363—11380
Melatonin attenuates smoking-induced atherosclerosis by activating the Nrf2 pathway via NLRP3 inflammasomes in endothelial cells
- 1 Department of Vascular Surgery, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
Received: May 30, 2020 Accepted: January 7, 2021 Published: April 4, 2021https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202829
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2021 Zhao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Substantial evidence suggests that the effects of smoking in atherosclerosis are associated with inflammation mediated by endothelial cells. However, the mechanisms and potential drug therapies for smoking-induced atherosclerosis remain to be clarified. Considering that melatonin exerts beneficial effects in cardiovascular diseases, we examined its effects on cigarette smoke-induced vascular injury. We found that cigarette smoke extract (CSE) treatment induced NLRP3-related pyroptosis in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). CSE also induced ROS generation and upregulated the Nrf2 pathway in HAECs. Furthermore, pretreatment of HAECs with Nrf2-specific siRNA and an Nrf2 activator revealed that Nrf2 can inhibit CSE-induced ROS/NLRP3 activation. Nrf2 also improved cell viability and the expression of VEGF and eNOS in CSE-treated HAECs. In balloon-induced carotid artery injury model rats exposed to cigarette smoke, melatonin treatment reduced intimal hyperplasia in the carotid artery. Mechanistic studies revealed that compared with the control group, Nrf2 activation was increased in the melatonin group, whereas ROS levels and the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway were inhibited. These results reveal that melatonin might effectively protect against smoking-induced vascular injury and atherosclerosis through the Nrf2/ROS/NLRP3 signaling pathway. Overall, these observations provide compelling evidence for the clinical use of melatonin to reduce smoking-related inflammatory vascular injury and atherosclerosis.