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Glucose-Induced Oxidative Stress Reduces Proliferation in Embryonic Stem Cells via FOXO3A/β-Catenin-Dependent Transcription of p21(cip1).


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which are derived from a peri-implantation embryo, are routinely cultured in medium containing diabetic glucose (Glc) concentrations. While pregnancy in women with pre-existing diabetes may result in small embryos, whether such high Glc levels affect ESC growth remains uncovered. We show here that long-term exposure of ESCs to diabetic Glc inhibits their proliferation, thereby mimicking in vivo findings. Molecularly, Glc exposure increased oxidative stress and activated Forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a), promoting increased expression and activity of the ROS-removal enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase and the cell-cycle inhibitors p21(cip1) and p27(kip1). Diabetic Glc also promoted β-catenin nuclear localization and the formation of a complex with FOXO3a that localized to the promoters of Sod2, p21(cip1), and potentially p27(kip1). Our results demonstrate an adaptive response to increases in oxidative stress induced by diabetic Glc conditions that promote ROS removal, but also result in a decrease in proliferation.

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