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Mitochondria targeted esculetin administration improves insulin resistance and hyperglycemia-induced atherosclerosis in db/db mice.

The development and progression of hyperglycemia (HG) and HG-associated atherosclerosis are exacerbated by mitochondrial dysfunction due to dysregulated mitochondria-derived ROS generation. We recently synthesized a novel mitochondria-targeted esculetin (Mito-Esc) and tested its dose-response therapeutic efficacy in mitigating HG-induced atherosclerosis in db/db mice. In comparison to simvastatin and pioglitazone, Mito-Esc administration resulted in a considerable reduction in body weights and improved glucose homeostasis, possibly by reducing hepatic gluconeogenesis, as indicated by a reduction in glycogen content, non-esterified free fatty acids (NEFA) levels, and fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase (FBPase) activity. Interestingly, Mito-Esc treatment, by regulating phospho-IRS and phospho-AKT levels, greatly improved palmitate-induced insulin resistance, resulting in enhanced glucose uptake in adipocytes and HepG2 cells. Also, and importantly, Mito-Esc administration prevented HG-induced atheromatous plaque formation and lipid accumulation in the descending aorta. In addition, Mito-Esc administration inhibited the HG-mediated increase in VACM, ICAM, and MAC3 levels in the aortic tissue, as well as reduced the serum pro-inflammatory cytokines and markers of senescence. In line with this, Mito-Esc significantly inhibited monocyte adherence to human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) treated with high glucose and reduced high glucose-induced premature senescence in HAECs by activating the AMPK-SIRT1 pathway. In contrast, Mito-Esc failed to regulate high glucose-induced endothelial cell senescence under AMPK/SIRT1-depleted conditions. Together, the therapeutic efficacy of Mito-Esc in the mitigation of hyperglycemia-induced insulin resistance and the associated atherosclerosis is in part mediated by potentiating the AMPK-SIRT1 axis. KEY MESSAGES: Mito-Esc administration significantly mitigates diabetes-induced atherosclerosis. Mito-Esc improves hyperglycemia (HG)-associated insulin resistance. Mito-Esc inhibits HG-induced vascular senescence and inflammation in the aorta. Mito-Esc-mediated activation of the AMPK-SIRT1 axis regulates HG-induced endothelial cell senescence.

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