Eicosapentaenoic acid ameliorates palmitate-induced lipotoxicity via the AMP kinase/dynamin-related protein-1 signaling pathway in differentiated H9c2 myocytes

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Emerging evidence suggested the preferable effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) against cardiac lipotoxicity, which worsens cardiac function by means of excessive serum free fatty acids due to chronic adrenergic stimulation under heart failure. Nonetheless, the precise molecular mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, we focused on dynamin-related protein-1 (Drp1) as a possible modulator of the EPA-mediated cardiac protection against cardiac lipotoxicity, and investigated the causal relation between AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and Drp1.

Methods and results:

When differentiated H9c2 myocytes were exposed to palmitate (PAL; saturated fatty acid, 400 μM) for 24 h, these myocytes showed activation of caspases 3 and 7, enhanced caspase 3 cleavage, depolarized mitochondrial membrane potential, depleted intracellular ATP, and enhanced production of intracellular reactive oxygen species. These changes suggested lipotoxicity due to excessive PAL. PAL enhanced mitochondrial fragmentation with increased Drp1 expression, as well. EPA (50 μM) restored the PAL-induced apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, and mitochondrial fragmentation with increased Drp1 expression by PAL. EPA activated phosphorylation of AMPK, and pharmacological activation of AMPK by 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide ameliorated the PAL-induced apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, and downregulated Drp1. An AMPK knockdown via RNA interference enhanced Drp1 expression and attenuated the protective effects of EPA against the PAL-induced lipotoxicity.


EPA ameliorates the PAL-induced lipotoxicity via AMPK activation, which subsequently suppresses mitochondrial fragmentation and Drp1 expression. Our findings may provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms of EPA-mediated myocardial protection in heart failure.

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