Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) have been identified as relevant mediators of late diabetic complications such as atherosclerotic disease. The endothelial migration of monocytes is one of the first steps in atherogenesis and monocyte–endothelial interaction itself is linked to the expression of adhesion molecules like vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). Recently, stimulation of VCAM-1 by AGEs has been demonstrated. Since endothelial stimulation by AGEs is followed by generation of oxygen free radicals with subsequent activation of nuclear transcription factor κB, we investigated the influence of α-lipoic acid on the expression of VCAM-1 and monocyte adherence to endothelial cells in vitro by means of cell-associated chemiluminescence assays and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using a constructed recombinant RNA standard. We found that α-lipoic acid was able to decrease the number of VCAM-1 transcripts from 41.0±11.2 to 9.5±4.7 RNA copies per cell in AGE-stimulated cell cultures. Furthermore, expression of VCAM-1 was suppressed in a time- and dose-dependent manner by α-lipoic acid as shown by chemiluminescence endothelial cell assay. Pretreatment of endothelial cells with 0.5 ;mM or 5 ;mM α-lipoic acid reduced AGE-induced endothelial binding of monocytes from 22.5±2.9% to 18.3±1.9% and 13.8±1.8% respectively. Thus, we suggest that extracellularly administered α-lipoic acid reduces AGE-albumin-induced endothelial expression of VCAM-1 and monocyte binding to endothelium in vitro. These in vitro results may contribute to the understanding of a potential antioxidative treatment of atherosclerosis.

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