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Saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate, are elevated in metabolically dysfunctional conditions like type 2 diabetes mellitus. Palmitate has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity and suppress protein synthesis while upregulating proteolytic systems in skeletal muscle. Increased sarco/endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and subsequent activation of the unfolded protein response may contribute to the palmitate-induced impairment of muscle protein synthesis. In some cell types, ER stress occurs through activation of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Given the link between ER stress and suppression of protein synthesis, we investigated whether palmitate induces markers of ER stress and protein synthesis by activating TLR4 in cultured mouse C2C12 myotubes. Myotubes were treated with vehicle, a TLR4-specific ligand (lipopolysaccharides), palmitate, or a combination of palmitate plus a TLR4-specific inhibitor (TAK-242). Inflammatory indicators of TLR4 activation (IL-6 and TNFα) and markers of ER stress were measured, and protein synthesis was assessed using puromycin incorporation. Palmitate substantially increased the levels of IL-6, TNF-α, CHOP, XBP1s, and ATF 4 mRNAs and augmented the levels of CHOP, XBP1s, phospho-PERK and phospho-eIF2α proteins. The TLR4 antagonist attenuated both acute palmitate and LPS-induced increases in IL-6 and TNFα, but did not reduce ER stress signaling with either 6 h or 24 h palmitate treatment. Similarly, treating myotubes with palmitate for 6 h caused a 43% decline in protein synthesis consistent with an increase in phospho-eIF2α, and the TLR4 antagonist did not alter these responses. These results suggest that palmitate does not induce ER stress through TLR4 in muscle, and that palmitate impairs protein synthesis in skeletal muscle in part by induction of ER stress.
PMID: 29329354 [PubMed - in process]