Background: Oxidized LDL (oxLDL) is involved in the development of atherosclerotic heart disease through a mechanism that is not fully understood. In this study, we examined the role of malondialdehyde (MDA), an important oxidative stress epitope of oxLDL, in mediating coronary endothelial cytotoxicity. Results: Human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs) were treated with oxLDL in the presence or absence of antibody against MDA (anti-MDA) or apoB100 (anti-apoB100). In HCAECs treated with oxLDL (100 μg/ml) alone, DNA synthesis, cell viability, and expression of prosurvival fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) were significantly reduced (P <0.01 vs phosphate buffered saline-treated cells). These inhibitory effects of oxLDL were significantly attenuated in HCAECs cotreated with anti-MDA (0.15 μg/ml; P <0.05 vs oxLDL-treated cells), but not in those cotreated with anti-apoB100. When we tested the effects of a panel of signal transduction modifiers on the signal transduction pathways of MDA in oxLDL-treated HCAECs, we found that MDA-induced cytotoxicity was mediated partly through the Akt pathway. Using a reporter gene assay, we identified an oxLDL-response element in the FGF2 promoter that was responsible for the transcriptional repression of FGF2 by oxLDL. The results of bisulfite genomic DNA sequencing showed that in HCAECs treated with oxLDL, the GC-rich promoter of FGF2 was heavily methylated at cytosine residues, whereas cotreatment with anti-MDA markedly reduced oxLDL-induced FGF2 promoter methylation. Conclusion: OxLDL disrupts the growth and survival of HCAECs through an MDA-dependent pathway involving methylation of the FGF2 promoter and repression of FGF2 transcription. This novel epigenetic mechanism of oxLDL may underlie its atherogenicity in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
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