DOI: 10.3390/antiox12091681 ISSN:

AMPK-Dependent YAP Inhibition Mediates the Protective Effect of Metformin against Obesity-Associated Endothelial Dysfunction and Inflammation

Lijing Kang, Juanjuan Yi, Chi-Wai Lau, Lei He, Qinghua Chen, Suowen Xu, Jun Li, Yin Xia, Yuanting Zhang, Yu Huang, Li Wang
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology

Hyperglycemia is a crucial risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Chronic inflammation is a central characteristic of obesity, leading to many of its complications. Recent studies have shown that high glucose activates Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP) by suppressing AMPK activity in breast cancer cells. Metformin is a commonly prescribed anti-diabetic drug best known for its AMPK-activating effect. However, the role of YAP in the vasoprotective effect of metformin in diabetic endothelial cell dysfunction is still unknown. The present study aimed to investigate whether YAP activation plays a role in obesity-associated endothelial dysfunction and inflammation and examine whether the vasoprotective effect of metformin is related to YAP inhibition. Reanalysis of the clinical sequencing data revealed YAP signaling, and the YAP target genes CTGF and CYR61 were upregulated in aortic endothelial cells and retinal fibrovascular membranes from diabetic patients. YAP overexpression impaired endothelium-dependent relaxations (EDRs) in isolated mouse aortas and increased the expression of YAP target genes and inflammatory markers in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). High glucose-activated YAP in HUVECs and aortas was accompanied by increased production of oxygen-reactive species. AMPK inhibition was found to induce YAP activation, resulting in increased JNK activity. Metformin activated AMPK and promoted YAP phosphorylation, ultimately improving EDRs and suppressing the JNK activity. Targeting the AMPK–YAP–JNK axis could become a therapeutic strategy for alleviating vascular dysfunction in obesity and diabetes.

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