Adipophilin increases triglyceride storage in human macrophages by stimulation of biosynthesis and inhibition of β-oxidation

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Lipid accumulation alters macrophage biology and contributes to lipid retention within the vessel wall. In this study, we investigated the role of adipophilin on triglyceride accumulation and lipid-droplet formation in THP-1-derived macrophages (THP-1 macrophages). In the presence of acetylated low-density lipoprotein, macrophages infected with an adenovirus expressing human adipophilin showed a 31% increase in triglyceride content and a greater number of lipid droplets compared with control cells. Incubation of macrophages with very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) dramatically increased cellular triglyceride content similarly in control and adipophilin-overexpressing cells. By itself, VLDL increased adipophilin expression, which explains the lack of effect of adipophilin overexpression on cellular triglyceride content in macrophages loaded with VLDL. The lipid-droplet content of macrophages was increased by overexpression of adipophilin and/or loading with VLDL. In contrast, inhibition of adipophilin expression using siRNA prevented lipid-droplet formation and significantly reduced intracellular triglyceride content. Using inhibitors of β-oxidation and acyl-coenzyme A synthetase, results were obtained which suggest that adipophilin elevates cellular lipids by inhibition of β-oxidation and stimulation of long-chain fatty acid incorporation into triglycerides. Adipophilin expression in THP-1 macrophages altered the cellular content of different lipids and enhanced the size of lipid droplets, consistent with a role for adipophilin in human foam cell formation.

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