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Endothelial cell (EC) junctions regulate in large part the integrity and barrier function of the vascular endothelium. Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), the irreversibly formed reactive derivatives of non-enzymic glucose-protein condensation reactions, are strongly implicated in endothelial dysfunction that distinguishes diabetes- and aging-associated vascular complications. The aim of the present study was to determine whether AGEs affect EC lateral junction proteins, with particular regard to the vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) complex. Our results indicate that AGE-modified BSA (AGE-BSA), a prototype of advanced glycated proteins, disrupts the VE-cadherin complex when administered to ECs. AGE-BSA, but not unmodified BSA, was found to induce decreases in the levels of VE-cadherin, beta-catenin and gamma-catenin in the complex and in total cell extracts, as well as a marked reduction in the amount of VE-cadherin present at the cell surface. In contrast, the level of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1), which is located at lateral junctions, was not altered. Supplementation of the cellular antioxidative defences abolished these effects. Finally, the loss of components of the VE-cadherin complex was correlated with increases in vascular permeability and in EC migration. These findings suggest that some of the AGE-induced biological effects on the endothelium could be mediated, at least in part, by the weakening of intercellular contacts caused by decreases in the amount of VE-cadherin present.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem j

Publication Date





567 - 574


Acetylcysteine, Albumins, Animals, Cadherins, Cattle, Cells, Cultured, Cytoskeletal Proteins, Endothelium, Vascular, Free Radical Scavengers, Glycation End Products, Advanced, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Mice, Serum Albumin, Bovine, Trans-Activators, beta Catenin