Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) can be found in protein- and sugar-rich food products processed at high temperatures, which make up a vast amount of the Western diet. The effect of AGE-rich food products on human health is not yet clear and controversy still exists due to possible contamination of samples with endotoxin and the use of endogenous formed AGEs. AGEs occur in food products, both as protein-bound and individual molecules. Which form exactly induces a pro-inflammatory effect is also unknown. In this study, we exposed human macrophage-like cells to dietary AGEs, both in a protein matrix and individual AGEs. It was ensured that all samples did not contain endotoxin concentrations > 0.06 EU/mL. The dietary AGEs induced TNF-alpha secretion of human macrophage-like cells. This effect was decreased by the addition of N(ε)-carboxymethyllysine (CML)-antibodies or a receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) antagonist. None of the individual AGEs induce any TNF-alpha, indicating that AGEs should be bound to proteins to exert an inflammatory reaction. These findings show that dietary AGEs directly stimulate the inflammatory response of human innate immune cells and help us define the risk of regular consumption of AGE-rich food products on human health.
Keywords: Maillard reaction; advanced glycation endproducts; food; inflammation; macrophages.