Macrophages in pathologically expanded dysfunctional white adipose tissue are exposed to a mix of potential modulators of inflammatory response, including fatty acids released from insulin-resistant adipocytes, increased levels of insulin produced to compensate insulin resistance, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) released from activated macrophages. The current study addressed the question of how palmitate might interact with insulin or PGE2 to induce the formation of the chemotactic pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8 (IL-8). Human THP-1 cells were differentiated into macrophages. In these macrophages, palmitate induced IL-8 formation. Insulin enhanced the induction of IL-8 formation by palmitate as well as the palmitate-dependent stimulation of PGE2 synthesis. PGE2 in turn elicited IL-8 formation on its own and enhanced the induction of IL-8 release by palmitate, most likely by activating the EP4 receptor. Since IL-8 causes insulin resistance and fosters inflammation, the increase in palmitate-induced IL-8 formation that is caused by hyperinsulinemia and locally produced PGE2 in chronically inflamed adipose tissue might favor disease progression in a vicious feed-forward cycle.
Keywords: inflammation; insulin; interleukin-8; macrophages; prostaglandin E2.