The importance of GLUT3 for de novo lipogenesis in hypoxia-induced lipid loading of human macrophages

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42360. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042360. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Abstract

Atherosclerotic lesions are characterized by lipid-loaded macrophages (foam cells) and hypoxic regions. Although it is well established that foam cells are produced by uptake of cholesterol from oxidized LDL, we previously showed that hypoxia also promotes foam cell formation even in the absence of exogenous lipids. The hypoxia-induced lipid accumulation results from increased triglyceride biosynthesis but the exact mechanism is unknown. Our aim was to investigate the importance of glucose in promoting hypoxia-induced de novo lipid synthesis in human macrophages. In the absence of exogenous lipids, extracellular glucose promoted the accumulation of Oil Red O-stained lipid droplets in human monocyte-derived macrophages in a concentration-dependent manner. Lipid droplet accumulation was higher in macrophages exposed to hypoxia at all assessed concentrations of glucose. Importantly, triglyceride synthesis from glucose was increased in hypoxic macrophages. GLUT3 was highly expressed in macrophage-rich and hypoxic regions of human carotid atherosclerotic plaques and in macrophages isolated from these plaques. In human monocyte-derived macrophages, hypoxia increased expression of both GLUT3 mRNA and protein, and knockdown of GLUT3 with siRNA significantly reduced both glucose uptake and lipid droplet accumulation. In conclusion, we have shown that hypoxia-induced increases in glucose uptake through GLUT3 are important for lipid synthesis in macrophages, and may contribute to foam cell formation in hypoxic regions of atherosclerotic lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Foam Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipogenesis / physiology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / metabolism
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / pathology
  • RNA Interference

Substances

  • Glucose Transporter Type 3
  • Glucose

Grant support

Funding was provided by the Swedish Research Council. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.