© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Nicorandil is an adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channel opener with additional antioxidant properties. Doxorubicin (DOX) is an anticancer drug that exerts oxidation-mediated adverse cardiovascular effects. This study examined the effects of nicorandil on DOX-induced cytotoxicity in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and underlying intracellular signaling mechanisms. Cultured HUVECs were pretreated with nicorandil (0.1, 0.3, 1, 3, and 10 μM) for 12 h and then treated with DOX (1 μM) for 24 h. Cell viability and cytotoxicity were measured using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and lactate dehydrogenase assays, respectively. Cell apoptosis was examined using a caspase-3 activity assay, and DNA fragmentation was detected through TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling) staining. Western blot analysis was conducted to determine the related protein expression. DOX markedly increased reactive oxygen species production, p53 expression, caspase-3 activity, cleaved caspase-3 levels, and TUNEL-positive cell numbers but reduced Bcl-2 expression and intracellular antioxidant enzyme levels; these effects were effectively antagonized through nicorandil (3 μM, 12 h) pretreatment, which resulted in HUVECs being protected from DOX-induced apoptosis. Activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3), a stress-induced transcription factor, was induced by nicorandil (3 μM). Furthermore, nicorandil (3 μM) enhanced nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) translocation and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression. ATF3 short interfering RNA significantly attenuated nicorandil-mediated Nrf2 translocation, HO-1 expression, and inhibitory effects on DOX-stimulated reactive oxygen species production and cell apoptosis. In summary, nicorandil may protect HUVECs from DOX-induced apoptosis, in part through ATF3-mediated Nrf2/HO-1 signaling pathways, which potentially protect the vessels from severe DOX toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number172542
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 15 2019


  • Apoptosis
  • Doxorubicin
  • Endothelial cells
  • Nicorandil
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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