Free fatty acid (FFA)-bound albumin, which is filtrated through the glomeruli and reabsorbed into proximal tubular cells, is one of the crucial mediators of tubular damage in proteinuric kidney disease. In this study, we examined the role of each kind of FFA on renal tubular damage in vitro and tried to identify its molecular mechanism. In cultured proximal tubular cells, a saturated fatty acid, palmiate, increased the expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), but this effect was abrogated by co-incubation of monounsaturated fatty acid, oleate, or ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Palmitate led to intracellular accumulation of diacylglycerol (DAG) and subsequent activation of protein kinase C protein family. Among the several PKC inhibitors, rottlerin, a PKCθ inhibitor, prevented palmitate-induced MCP-1 expression via inactivation of NFB pathway. Overexpression of dominant-negative PKCθ also inhibited palmitate-induced activation of MCP-1 promoter. Furthermore, palmitate enhanced PKCθ-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis, which was also prevented by co-incubation with oleate or EPA through restoration of pro-survival Akt pathway. Moreover, oleate and EPA inhibited palmitate-induced PKCθ activation through the conversion of intracellular DAG to triglyceride with the restoration of diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2 expression. These results suggest that oleate and EPA have protective effects against the palmitate-induced renal tubular cell damage by inhibiting PKCθ activation.
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