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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 351827, 11 pages
Research Article

Protocatechuic Acid Prevents oxLDL-Induced Apoptosis by Activating JNK/Nrf2 Survival Signals in Macrophages

1Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Nutrition Unit, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy
2Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, Section of Pharmacology and Biochemistry, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy

Received 1 July 2014; Revised 12 September 2014; Accepted 19 September 2014

Academic Editor: Cristina Angeloni

Copyright © 2015 Rosaria Varì et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Protocatechuic acid (PCA), one of the main metabolites of complex polyphenols, exerts numerous biological activities including antiapoptotic, anti-inflammatory, and antiatherosclerotic effects. Oxidised LDL have atherogenic properties by damaging arterial wall cells and inducing p53-dependent apoptosis in macrophages. This study was aimed at defining the molecular mechanism responsible for the protective effects of PCA against oxidative and proapoptotic damage exerted by oxLDL in J774 A.1 macrophages. We found that the presence of PCA in cells treated with oxLDL completely inhibited the p53-dependent apoptosis induced by oxLDL. PCA decreased oxLDL-induced ROS overproduction and in particular prevented the early increase of ROS. This decrease seemed to be the main signal responsible for maintaining the intracellular redox homeostasis hindering the activation of p53 induced by ROS, p38MAPK, and PKCδ. Consequently the overexpression of the proapoptotic p53-target genes such as p66Shc protein did not occur. Finally, we demonstrated that PCA induced the activation of JNK, which, in turn, determined the increase of nuclear Nrf2, leading to inhibition of the early ROS overproduction. We concluded that the antiapoptotic mechanism of PCA was most likely related to the activation of the JNK-mediated survival signals that strengthen the cellular antioxidant defences rather than to the PCA antioxidant power.