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High glucose mediated oxidative stress and cell death is a well documented phenomenon. Using VL-17A cells which are HepG2 cells over-expressing alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) and control HepG2 cells, the association of ADH and CYP2E1 with high glucose mediated oxidative stress and toxicity in liver cells was investigated. Cell viability was measured and apoptosis or necrosis was determined through caspase-3 activity, Annexin V–propidium iodide staining and detecting decreases in mitochondrial membrane potential. Reactive oxygen species, lipid peroxidation and the formation of advanced glycated-end products were assessed. The levels of several antioxidants which included glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, catalase and superoxide dismutase were altered in high glucose treated VL-17A cells. Greater toxicity was observed in VL-17A cells exposed to high glucose when compared to HepG2 cells. Oxidative stress parameters were greatly increased in high glucose exposed VL-17A cells and apoptotic cell death was observed. Inhibition of CYP2E1 or caspase 3 or addition of the antioxidant trolox led to significant decreases in high glucose mediated oxidative stress and toxicity. Thus, the over-expression of ADH and CYP2E1 in liver cells is associated with increased high glucose mediated oxidative stress and toxicity.
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