Original article| Volume 141, ISSUE 5, P318-329, May 2003

Differential effects of low-dose docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid on the regulation of mitogenic signaling pathways in mesangial cells


      Although dietary fish oil supplementation has been used to prevent the progression of kidney disease in patients with IgA nephropathy, relatively few studies provide a mechanistic rationale for its use. Using an antithymocyte (ATS) model of mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis, we recently demonstrated that fish oil inhibits mesangial cell (MC) activation and proliferation, reduces proteinuria, and decreases histologic evidence of glomerular damage. We therefore sought to define potential mechanisms underlying the antiproliferative effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the predominant ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil, in cultured MC. DHA and EPA were administered to MC as bovine serum albumin fatty-acid complexes. Low-dose (10-50 μmol/L) DHA, but not EPA, inhibited basal and epidermal growth factor (EGF)–stimulated [3H]-thymidine incorporation in MCs. At higher doses (100 μmol/L), EPA and DHA were equally effective in suppressing basal and EGF-stimulated MC mitogenesis. Low-dose DHA, but not EPA, decreased ERK activation by 30% (P < .01), as assessed with Western-blot analysis using phosphospecific antibodies. JNK activity was increased by low-dose DHA but not by EPA. p38 activity was not significantly altered by DHA or EPA. Cyclin E activity, as assessed with a histone H1 kinase assay, was inhibited by low-dose DHA but not by EPA. DHA increased expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p21 but not p27; EPA had no effect on p21 or p27. We propose that the differential effect of low-dose DHA vs EPA in suppressing MC mitogenesis is related to down-regulation of ERK and cyclin E activity and to induction of p21.


      ATS (antithymocyte serum), BSA (bovine serum albumin), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), ECL (enhanced chemiluminescence), EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), EGF (epidermal growth factor), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), HEPES (N-2-hydroxyethylpiperazine-N-2-ethanesulfonic acid), IL-6 (interleukin-6), ITS+ (insulin, transferrin, selenium, and BSA), LDH (lactate dehydrogenase), MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinases), MC (mesangial cells), PBS (phosphate-buffered saline solution), PDGF (platelet-derived growth factor), PMSF (phenylmethylsulfonylfluoride), pRb (retinoblastoma protein), ω-3 PUFA (ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid), RIPA (PBS, 1% Nonidet P-40, 0.5% sodium deoxycholate, 0.1% SDS, 100 μg/mL PMSF, 2 μg/mL aprotinin, and 200 μmol/L sodium orthovanidate), SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis), TBS (Tris-buffered saline solution), TCA (trichloroacetic acid), TdT (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase), TNF (tumor necrosis factor), VSMC (vascular smooth muscle cells)
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