Capsaicin, a spicy component of hot peppers, has been shown to improve inflammatory disease and obesity. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the anti-inflammatory activity of capsaicin can be used to improve free fatty acid (FFA)-induced inflammation by reducing gene expression of macrophage inflammatory protein 1 (MIP-1) and interleukin 8 (IL-8) in THP-1 (human acute monocytic leukemia cell) macrophages. To investigate whether capsaicin ameliorates palmitate-induced MIP-1 and IL-8 gene expressions, we treated THP-1 cells with palmitate in the presence or absence of capsaicin and measured MIP-1 and IL-8 by real-time polymerase chain reaction. To elucidate the mechanism by which capsaicin effects on palmitate-induced MIP-1 and IL-8 gene expressions, we performed immunoblotting with stress kinase-related antibodies and measured palmitate oxidation and palmitate oxidation-related gene expression. Palmitate and stearate but not the unsaturated FFA oleate significantly increased MIP-1 and IL-8 expressions in THP-1 macrophages. Treatment with capsaicin or FFA oxidation stimulators inhibited palmitate-induced MIP-1 and IL-8 expressions in THP-1 macrophages. Capsaicin increased the gene expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 and the β-oxidation of palmitate. Furthermore, capsaicin significantly reduced palmitate-stimulated activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, c-Jun, and p38. Our data suggest that the attenuation of palmitate-induced MIP-1 and IL-8 gene expressions by capsaicin is associated with reduced activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, c-Jun, and p38 and preserved β-oxidation activity.
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