Intermittent exposure of cultured endothelial cells to physiologically relevant fructose concentrations has a profound impact on nitric oxide production and bioenergetics

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Abstract

Hyperglycaemia is known to induce endothelial dysfunction and changes in metabolic function, which could be implicated in diabetes-induced cardiovascular disease. To date, however, little is known about the impact of physiologically relevant concentrations of fructose on endothelial cells.
A novel in vitro model was devised to establish the impact of substitution of a small proportion of glucose with an equal concentration (0.1 mM or 1 mM) of fructose on EA.hy926 endothelial cells during periodic carbohydrate “meals” superimposed on a normoglycaemic (5.5 mM) background. Parallel experiments were conducted using meals consisting of normoglycaemic glucose, intermediate glucose (12.5 mM) or profound hyperglycaemia (25 mM), each delivered for 2 h, with and without substituted fructose over 50 h. Outcome measures included nitrite as a surrogate marker of the mediator of healthy endothelial function, nitric oxide (NO), and a range of bioenergetic parameters using a metabolic analyser.
Despite its relatively low proportion of carbohydrate load, intermittent fructose induced a substantial reduction (approximately 90%) in NO generation in cells treated with either concentration of fructose. Cell markers of oxidative stress were not altered by this treatment regimen. However, the cells experienced a marked increase in metabolic activity induced by fructose, irrespective of the glucose concentration delivered simultaneously in the “meals”. Indeed, glucose alone failed to induce any metabolic impact in this model. Key metabolic findings were a 2-fold increase in basal oxygen consumption rate and a similar change in extracellular acidification rate – a marker of glycolysis. Non-metabolic oxygen consumption also increased substantially in cells exposed to fructose. There was no difference between results with 0.1 mM fructose and those with 1 mM fructose.
Low, physiologically relevant concentrations of fructose, delivered in a pattern that mimics mealtime consumption, had a profound impact on endothelial function and bioenergetics in an in vitro cell model. The results suggest that endothelial cells are exquisitely sensitive to circulating fructose; the potential ensuing dysfunction could have major implications for development of atherosclerotic disease associated with high fructose consumption.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Apr 2022

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