Elaidate, an 18-carbon trans-monoenoic fatty acid, but not physiological fatty acids increases intracellular Zn(2+) in human macrophages

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Artificial trans fatty acids promote atherosclerosis by blocking macrophage clearance of cell debris. Classical fatty-acid response mechanisms include TLR4-NF-κB activation, and Erk1/2 phosphorylation, but these may not indicate long-term mechanisms. Indeed, nuclear NF-κB was increased by 60 minute treatment by 30 μM of the 18 carbon trans unsaturated fatty acid elaidic acid (elaidate), the physiological cis-unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (oleate), and the 18 or 16 carbon saturated fatty acids stearic and palmitic acid (stearate or palmitate). However, except for stearate, effects on related pathways were minimal at 44 hours. To determine longer term effects of trans fatty acids, we compared whole exome mRNA expression of (trans) elaidate to (cis) oleate, 30 μM, at 44 hours in human macrophages. We found that elaidate changed Zn2+-homeostasis gene mRNAs markedly. This might be important because Zn2+ is a major regulator of macrophage activity. Messenger RNAs of seven Zn2+-binding metallothioneins decreased 2–4 fold; the zinc importer SLC39A10 increased 2-fold, in elaidate relative to oleate-treated cells. Results were followed by quantitative PCR comparing cis, trans, and saturated fatty acid effects on Zn2+-homeostasis gene mRNAs. This confirmed that elaidate uniquely decreased metallothionein expression and increased SLC39A10 at 44 hours. Further, intracellular Zn2+ was measured using N-(carboxymethyl)-N-[2-[2-[2(carboxymethyl)amino]-5-(2,7,-difluoro-6-hydroxy-3-oxo-3H-xanthen-9-yl)-phenoxy]-ethoxy]-4-methoxyphenyl]glycine, acetoxymethyl ester (FluoZin-3-AM). This showed that, at 44 hours, only cells treated with elaidate had increased Zn2+. The durable effect of elaidate on Zn2+ activation is a novel and specific effect of trans fatty acids on peripheral macrophage metabolism.