The accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in diabetic patients induces vascular endothelial injury. Promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger protein (PLZF) is a transcription factor that can be activated by low-temperature far-infrared (FIR) irradiation to exert beneficial effects on the vascular endothelium. In the present study, we investigated the influence of FIR-induced PLZF activation on AGE-induced endothelial injury both in vitro and in vivo. FIR irradiation inhibited AGE-induced apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). PLZF activation increased the expression of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinases (PI3K), which are important kinases in the autophagic signaling pathway. FIR-induced PLZF activation led to autophagy in HUVEC, which was mediated through the upregulation of PI3K. Immunofluorescence staining showed that AGEs were engulfed by HUVECs and localized to lysosomes. FIR-induced autophagy promoted AGEs degradation in HUVECs. In nicotinamide/streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice, FIR therapy reduced serum AGEs and AGEs deposition at the vascular endothelium. FIR therapy also reduced diabetes-induced inflammatory markers in the vascular endothelium and improved vascular endothelial function. These protective effects of FIR therapy were not found in PLZF-knockout mice. Our data suggest that FIR-induced PLZF activation in vascular endothelial cells protects the vascular endothelium in diabetic mice from AGE-induced injury.
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