Inhibition of MEK/ERK1/2 Signaling Affects the Fatty Acid Composition of HepG2 Human Hepatic Cell Line

Bioimpacts. 2012;2(3):145-50. doi: 10.5681/bi.2012.019. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


Introduction: The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, also known as the MEK/ERK1/2 kinase cascade, has recently been implicated in the regulation of lipid metabolism and fatty liver disease. However, its functional effect on cellular fatty acid composition is unknown. Herein, we examined the effect of a pharmacological inhibitor of MEK, the upstream kinase activator of ERK1/2, on fatty acid composition of hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2.

Methods: HepG2 cells cultured in RPMI-1640 were exposed to the commonly used ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor PD98059 and were investigated with respect to fatty acid composition by gas-liquid chromatography.

Results: Exposure of cells to the ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor induced an increase in monounsaturated fatty acids and the fatty acid desaturation index and a decrease in polyunsaturated fatty acid content. Specifically, we showed a significant increase of oleic acid (18:1n-9; +29%, P=0.003) and arachidonic acid (20:4n-6)/linoleic acid (18:2n-6) ratio (3.5-fold; P<0.001) in HepG2 cells.

Conclusion: Cellular fatty acid composition of HepG2 cells appeared to be differentially regulated by ERK1/2 pathway, thus suggesting related metabolic pathways as potential mediators of the effects of ERK1/2 signaling on hepatic fatty acid composition.

Keywords: ,Signaling; Fatty Acids; HepG2 Cells; Liver; MEK/ERK1/2; PD98059.