Macrophage polarisation by fatty acids is PPARgamma-dependent

Chathyan Pararasa, Clifford Bailey, Helen Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract


Elevated plasma free fatty acids (FAs) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We investigated the effects of the saturated FA palmitate and unsaturated FA oleate on monocyte phenotype and function. Palmitate increased cell surface expression of integrin CD11b and scavenger receptor CD36 in a concentration-dependent manner with some decrease in mitochondrial reducing capacity at high concentration (300µM). Monocytes incubated with palmitate, but not oleate, showed increased uptake of oxidized LDL and increased adhesion to rat aortic endothelium, particularly at bifurcations. The palmitate-induced increase in CD11b and CD36 expression was associated with increased cellular C16 ceramide and sphingomyelin, loss of reduced glutathione, and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS). Increased monocyte surface CD11b and CD36 was inhibited by fumonisin B1, an inhibitor of de novo ceramide synthesis, but not by the superoxide dismutase mimetic MnTBap. In contrast, MnTBap prevented the mitochondrial ROS increase and metabolic inhibition due to 300µM palmitate. This study demonstrates that in viable monocytes, palmitate but not oleate increases expression of surface CD11b and CD36. Palmitate increases monocyte adhesion to the aortic wall and promotes uptake of oxidized LDL and this involves de novo ceramide synthesis. We have also explored whether specific dietary fatty acids drive monocyte to macrophage polarisation via metabolic pathways. Here we show that monocytes pre-incubated with the saturated fatty acid palmitate increase production of inflammatory cytokines such as TNFa and IL-6 in response to a phorbol myristate differentiation trigger. This increases mitochondrial superoxide production, reduces dependency on oxidative phosphorylation through ceramide-dependent inhibition of PPARgamma activity and increases TNFa production, again via a mechanism that requires ceramide production.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberP32
Pages (from-to)S31-S32
Number of pages2
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue numberSuppl.1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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