Glucose regulates expression of pro-inflammatory genes, IL-1β and IL-12, through a mechanism involving hexosamine biosynthesis pathway-dependent regulation of α-E catenin

Biosci Rep. 2021 Jul 30;41(7):BSR20211066. doi: 10.1042/BSR20211066.


High glucose levels are associated with changes in macrophage polarisation and evidence indicates that the sustained or even short-term high glucose levels modulate inflammatory responses in macrophages. However, the mechanism by which macrophages can sense the changes in glucose levels are not clearly understood. We find that high glucose levels rapidly increase the α-E catenin protein level in RAW264.7 macrophages. We also find an attenuation of glucose-induced increase in α-E catenin when hexosamine biosynthesis (HB) pathway is inhibited either with glutamine depletion or with the drugs azaserine and tunicamycin. This indicates the involvement of HB pathway in this process. Then, we investigated the potential role of α-E catenin in glucose-induced macrophage polarisation. We find that the reduction in α-E catenin level using siRNA attenuates the glucose-induced changes of both IL-1β and IL-12 mRNA levels under LPS-stimulated condition but does not affect TNF-α expression. Together this indicates that α-E catenin can sense the changes in glucose levels in macrophages via HB pathway and also can modulate the glucose-induced gene expression of inflammatory markers such as IL-1β and IL-12. This identifies a new part of the mechanism by which macrophages are able to respond to changes in glucose levels.

Keywords: alpha catenin; hexosamine biosynthesis pathway; inflammation; macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Hexosamines / biosynthesis*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Up-Regulation
  • alpha Catenin / genetics
  • alpha Catenin / metabolism*


  • Ctnna1 protein, mouse
  • Hexosamines
  • IL1B protein, mouse
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • alpha Catenin
  • Interleukin-12
  • Glucose