Different impacts of saturated and unsaturated free fatty acids on COX-2 expression in C2C12 myotubes

Akito Kadotani, Yo Tsuchiya, Hiroyasu Hatakeyama, Hideki Katagiri, Makoto Kanzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In skeletal muscle, saturated free fatty acids (FFAs) act as proinflammatory stimuli, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a pro/anti-inflammatory enzyme induced at sites of inflammation, which contributes to prostaglandin production. However, little is known about the regulation of COX-2 expression and its responses to FFAs in skeletal muscle. Herein, we examined the effects of saturated and unsaturated FFAs, including a recently identified lipokine (lipid hormone derived from adipocytes), palmitoleate, on COX-2 expression in C 2C12 myotubes as a skeletal muscle model. Exposure of myotubes to saturated FFAs [palmitate (16:0) and stearate (18:0)], but not to unsaturated FFAs [palmitoleate (16:1), oleate (18:1), and linoleate (18:2)], led to a slow-onset induction of COX-2 expression and subsequent prostaglandin E2 production via mechanisms involving the p38 MAPK and NF-κB but not the PKCθ signaling cascades. Pharmacological modulation of mitochondrial oxidative function failed to interfere with COX-2 expression, suggesting the mitochondrial overload/excessive β-oxidation contribution to this event to be minimal. On the contrary, unsaturated FFAs appeared to effectively antagonize palmitate-induced COX-2 expression with markedly different potencies (linoleate > oleate > palmitoleate), being highly associated with the suppressive profile of each unsaturated FFA toward palmitate-evoked intracellular signals, including p38, JNK, ERK1/2 MAPKs, and PKCθ, as well as IκB degradation. In addition, our data suggest little involvement of PPAR in the protective actions of unsaturated FFAs against palmitate-induced COX-2 expression. No direct contribution of the increased COX-2 activity in generating palmitate-induced insulin resistance was detected, at least in terms of insulin-responsive Akt phosphorylation and GLUT4 translocation. Taken together, our data provide a novel insight into the molecular mechanisms responsible for the FFA-induced COX-2 expression in skeletal muscle and raise the possibility that, in skeletal myocytes, COX-2 and its product prostaglandins may play an important role in the complex inflammation responses caused by elevated FFAs, for example, in the diabetic state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1291-E1303
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec


  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Glucose transporter 4
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Signal transduction


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