Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Protect Against Palmitate-Induced Lipoapoptosis in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells

Dustin M Lee 1Kyle J Sevits 1Micah L Battson 1Yuren Wei 1Kimberly A Cox-York 1Christopher L Gentile 1

PMID: 31891641






Diets high in saturated fatty acids are linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk, whereas monounsaturated fatty acids have been associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes. Accordingly, cell culture studies have demonstrated that saturated fatty acids, particularly long chain saturated fatty acids such as palmitate, induce dysfunction and cell death in a variety of cell types, and monounsaturated fatty acids may confer protection against palmitate-mediated damage. The aim of the present study was to examine whether monounsaturated fatty acids could protect against palmitate-mediated cell death in endothelial cells, to determine if AMPK inactivation and activation (via compound C and AICAR, respectively) underlies both palmitate-induced damage and monounsaturated fatty acid-mediated protection, and to explore the role of ER stress in this context. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were examined for cell viability and apoptosis following treatment for 24 hours with palmitate (0.25 and 0.5mM) alone or in combination with the monounsaturated fatty acids oleate or palmitoleate (0.25 and 0.5mM), AICAR, compound C, 4μ8C, or TUDCA. Compared to control cells, palmitate significantly decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. The monounsaturated fatty acids oleate and palmitoleate completely prevented the cytotoxic effects of palmitate. Although palmitate induced markers of ER stress, chemical inhibition of ER stress did not prevent palmitate-induced lipoapoptosis. Conversely, the AMPK activator AICAR (0.1 and 0.5mM) conferred protection from palmitate mediated-alterations in viability, apoptosis and ER stress, whereas the AMPK inhibitor compound C (20 and 40μM) significantly exacerbated palmitate-mediated damage. Lastly, co-incubation with palmitate, monounsaturated fatty acids, and compound C significantly mitigated the protective effects of both oleate and palmitoleate. In conclusion, monounsaturated fatty acids confer protection against the cytotoxic effects of palmitate in vascular endothelial cells; and palmitate-mediated damage, as well as monounsaturated-mediated protection, are due in part to inactivation and activation, respectively, of the metabolic regulator AMPK. These results may have implications for understanding the deleterious effects of high saturated fat diets on cardiovascular dysfunction and disease risk.

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