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Moderate Elevation of Homocysteine Induces Endothelial Dysfunction through Adaptive UPR Activation and Metabolic Rewiring

Chatterje B, Fatima F, Seth S, Sinha Roy S
Cells. 2024;13:214. doi:10.3390/cells13030214
Elevation of the intermediate amino acid metabolite Homocysteine (Hcy) causes Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), a metabolic disorder frequently associated with mutations in the methionine-cysteine metabolic cycle as well as with nutritional deficiency and aging. The previous literature suggests that HHcy is a strong risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Severe HHcy is well-established to correlate with vascular pathologies primarily via endothelial cell death. Though moderate HHcy is more prevalent and associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular abnormalities in later part of life, its precise role in endothelial physiology is largely unknown. In this study, we report that moderate elevation of Hcy causes endothelial dysfunction through impairment of their migration and proliferation. We established that unlike severe elevation of Hcy, moderate HHcy is not associated with suppression of endothelial VEGF/VEGFR transcripts and ROS induction. We further showed that moderate HHcy induces a sub-lethal ER stress that causes defective endothelial migration through abnormal actin cytoskeletal remodeling. We also found that sub-lethal increase in Hcy causes endothelial proliferation defect by suppressing mitochondrial respiration and concomitantly increases glycolysis to compensate the consequential ATP loss and maintain overall energy homeostasis. Finally, analyzing a previously published microarray dataset, we confirmed that these hallmarks of moderate HHcy are conserved in adult endothelial cells as well. Thus, we identified adaptive UPR and metabolic rewiring as two key mechanistic signatures in moderate HHcy-associated endothelial dysfunction. As HHcy is clinically associated with enhanced vascular inflammation and hypercoagulability, identifying these mechanistic pathways may serve as future targets to regulate endothelial function and health.
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