Copper transporter ATP7A protects against endothelial dysfunction in type 1 diabetic mice by regulating extracellular superoxide dismutase.

PMID 23884884


Oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction contribute to vascular complication in diabetes. Extracellular superoxide dismutase (SOD3) is one of the key antioxidant enzymes that obtains copper via copper transporter ATP7A. SOD3 is secreted from vascular smooth muscles cells (VSMCs) and anchors at the endothelial surface. The role of SOD3 and ATP7A in endothelial dysfunction in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is entirely unknown. Here we show that the specific activity of SOD3, but not SOD1, is decreased, which is associated with increased O2(•-) production in aortas of streptozotocin-induced and genetically induced Ins2(Akita) T1DM mice. Exogenous copper partially rescued SOD3 activity in isolated T1DM vessels. Functionally, acetylcholine-induced, endothelium-dependent relaxation is impaired in T1DM mesenteric arteries, which is rescued by SOD mimetic tempol or gene transfer of SOD3. Mechanistically, ATP7A expression in T1DM vessels is dramatically decreased whereas other copper transport proteins are not altered. T1DM-induced endothelial dysfunction and decrease of SOD3 activity are rescued in transgenic mice overexpressing ATP7A. Furthermore, SOD3-deficient T1DM mice or ATP7A mutant T1DM mice augment endothelial dysfunction and vascular O2(•-) production versus T1DM mice. These effects are in part due to hypoinsulinemia in T1DM mice, since insulin treatment, but not high glucose, increases ATP7A expression in VSMCs and restores SOD3 activity in the organoid culture of T1DM vessels. In summary, a decrease in ATP7A protein expression contributes to impaired SOD3 activity, resulting in O2(•-) overproduction and endothelial dysfunction in blood vessels of T1DM. Thus, restoring copper transporter function is an essential therapeutic approach for oxidant stress-dependent vascular and metabolic diseases.