Vascular oxidative stress is considered a worsening factor in the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels promote the accumulation of amyloid-beta peptide (A beta), one of the main hallmarks of AD. In turn, A beta is a potent inducer of oxidative stress. In early stages of AD, the concomitant action of oxidative stress and A beta on brain capillary endothelial cells was observed to compromise the blood-brain barrier functionality. In this context, antioxidant compounds might provide therapeutic benefits. To this aim, we investigated the antioxidant activity of cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNP) in human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3) exposed to A beta oligomers. Treatment with CNP (13.9 +/- 0.7 nm in diameter) restored basal ROS levels in hCMEC/D3 cells, both after acute or prolonged exposure to A beta. Moreover, we found that the extent of CNP uptake by hCMEC/D3 was +43% higher in the presence of A beta. Scanning electron microscopy and western blot analysis suggested that changes in microvilli structures on the cell surface, under pro-oxidant stimuli (A beta or H2O2), might be involved in the enhancement of CNP uptake. This finding opens the possibility to exploit the modulation of endothelial microvilli pattern to improve the uptake of anti-oxidant particles designed to counteract ROS-mediated cerebrovascular dysfunctions.
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