Essential fatty acids are not only energy-rich molecules; they are also an important component of the membrane bilayer and recently have been implicated in induction of fatty acid synthase and other genes.

Using gene chip analysis, we have found that arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, induced 11 genes that are regulated by nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). We verified gene induction by omega-6 fatty acid, including COX-2, IkappaBalpha, NF-kappaB, GM-CSF, IL-1beta, CXCL-1, TNF-alpha, IL-6, LTA, IL-8, PPARgamma, and ICAM-1, using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. Prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) synthesis was increased within 5 minutes of addition of arachidonic acid. Analysis of upstream signal transduction showed that within 5 minutes of fatty acid addition, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) was significantly activated followed by activation of Akt at 30 minutes.

Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2, p38 and stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun-NH(2)-kinase were not phosphorylated after omega-6 fatty acid addition. Thirty minutes after fatty acid addition, we found a significant 3-fold increase in translocation of NF-kappaB transcription factor to the nucleus. Addition of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) caused a decrease in COX-2 protein synthesis, PGE(2) synthesis, as well as inhibition of PI3K activation.

We have previously shown that NSAIDs cause an inhibition of arachidonic acid-induced proliferation; here, we have shown that arachidonic acid-induced proliferation is also blocked (P < 0.001) by PI3K inhibitor LY294002. LY294002 also significantly inhibited the arachidonic acid-induced gene expression of COX-2, IL-1beta, GM-CSF, and ICAM1.

Taken together, the data suggest that arachidonic acid via conversion to PGE(2) plays an important role in stimulation of growth-related genes and proliferation via PI3K signaling and NF-kappaB translocation to the nucleus.

PMID: 16452198

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