Insulin up-regulates tumor necrosis factor-alpha production in macrophages through an extracellular-regulated kinase-dependent pathway.

Research paper by K T KT Iida, H H Shimano, Y Y Kawakami, H H Sone, H H Toyoshima, S S Suzuki, T T Asano, Y Y Okuda, N N Yamada

Indexed on: 10 Jul '01Published on: 10 Jul '01Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Hyperinsulinemia has recently been reported as a risk factor for atherosclerotic diseases such as coronary heart disease; however, the effect of insulin on the development of atherosclerosis is not well understood. Here we have investigated the direct effect of insulin on macrophages, which are known to be important in the atherosclerotic process. We treated THP-1 macrophages with insulin (10(-7) m) and examined the gene expression using nucleic acid array systems. The results of array analysis showed that insulin stimulated gene expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) the most among all genes in the analysis. In addition, insulin administration to macrophages enhanced both mRNA expression and protein secretion of TNF-alpha in a dose-dependent manner. To determine the signaling pathway involved in this TNF-alpha response to insulin, we pretreated the cells with three distinct protein kinase inhibitors: wortmannin, PD98059, and SB203580. Only PD98059, which inhibits extracellular signal-regulated kinases, suppressed insulin-induced production of TNF-alpha mRNA and protein in THP-1 macrophages. These observations indicate that insulin stimulates TNF-alpha production in macrophages by regulating the expression of TNF-alpha mRNA and that the extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling pathway may have a critical role in stimulating the production of TNF-alpha in response to insulin in macrophages.