Allylamine (AA) is an electrophilic amine with a long history of experimental usage because of its extremely potent and relatively specific cardiovascular toxicity; it has been utilized in a variety of experimental models attempting to mimic human atherosclerotic lesions, myocardial infarction, and vascular injury. Even though the exact mechanisms by which AA causes vascular lesions remain unresolved, recent studies on the acute effects of AA exposure in rats strongly suggest that deamination to the aldehyde acrolein, oxidative stress, and the resultant increase in lipid peroxidation, generation of .OH radicals, and acute depletion of glutathione (GSH) may be some of the causative factors in AA-induced vascular lesions. Since glutathione S-transferase 8-8 (GST8-8) of rat belongs to a distinct subgroup of GST isozymes involved in the detoxification of products of lipid peroxidation, we designed studies to examine the effects of AA exposure on this GST isoform in rat aorta using Western blotting and immunohistochemical techniques. The results of these studies demonstrate that GST8-8 is expressed in rat aorta and is dramatically induced upon AA exposure. By immunohistochemistry, GST8-8 was localized in the smooth muscle cells of the vascular media which is believed to be the site of metabolism of AA. A significant increase in γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase activity and GST activity toward 4-hydroxynonenal and acrolein, which are preferred substrates of GST8-8, was seen as early as 3 days following AA treatment. Alterations in GSH and other GSH-related enzymes at 3 and 10 days support the concept that-upon AA exposure-aortic defense mechanisms respond early and induction of GSH biosynthesis and rat GST8-8 occur to alleviate the toxic effects of acrolein, a major, genotoxic product of AA metabolism. The presence of GST8-8 in the vasculature, which is constantly exposed to products of lipid peroxidation, and its induction by AA, suggest that GST8-8 plays a key role in protecting blood vessels against oxidative stress and hence, may be involved in the atherogenic process.
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