Dietary Carnosine Prevents Early Atherosclerotic Lesion Formation in Apolipoprotein E–Null Mice
Objective—Atherosclerotic lesions are associated with the accumulation of reactive aldehydes derived from oxidized lipids. Although inhibition of aldehyde metabolism has been shown to exacerbate atherosclerosis and enhance the accumulation of aldehyde-modified proteins in atherosclerotic plaques, no therapeutic interventions have been devised to prevent aldehyde accumulation in atherosclerotic lesions.
Approach and Results—We examined the efficacy of carnosine, a naturally occurring β-alanyl-histidine dipeptide, in preventing aldehyde toxicity and atherogenesis in apolipoprotein E–null mice. In vitro, carnosine reacted rapidly with lipid peroxidation-derived unsaturated aldehydes. Gas chromatography mass-spectrometry analysis showed that carnosine inhibits the formation of free aldehydes 4-hydroxynonenal and malonaldialdehyde in Cu2+-oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Preloading bone marrow–derived macrophages with cell-permeable carnosine analogs reduced 4-hydroxynonenal–induced apoptosis. Oral supplementation with octyl-D-carnosine decreased atherosclerotic lesion formation in aortic valves of apolipoprotein E–null mice and attenuated the accumulation of protein-acrolein, protein-4-hydroxyhexenal, and protein-4-hydroxynonenal adducts in atherosclerotic lesions, whereas urinary excretion of aldehydes as carnosine conjugates was increased.
Conclusions—The results of this study suggest that carnosine inhibits atherogenesis by facilitating aldehyde removal from atherosclerotic lesions. Endogenous levels of carnosine may be important determinants of atherosclerotic lesion formation, and treatment with carnosine or related peptides could be a useful therapy for the prevention or the treatment of atherosclerosis.
- Received September 30, 2012.
- Accepted March 18, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.