Lipotoxic effects of triacylglycerols in J774.2 macrophages

Anna Aronis, Zecharia Madar, Oren Tirosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: Triacylglycerols (TGs) are being considered as an independent risk factor in atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome, acting by dysregulation of the TG/high-density lipoprotein axis. Accumulation of lipids in subendothelial space attracts macrophages, leading to atherosclerotic plaque formation and increased plaque instability due to formation of foam cells and macrophage death. The aim of this study was to evaluate lipotoxic effects in macrophages caused by TG uptake. Methods: J774.2 macrophages were exposed to soybean or olive oil-based lipid emulsions as a source of TGs (1 mg/mL) in a presence or absence of lipase inhibitor paraoxon (20 μM) or to bovine serum albumin-complexed palmitic (150 μM), linoleic (600 μM), and oleic (600 μM) fatty acids. Results: The results demonstrated accumulation of TGs, G1/S arrest, and cell death with necrotic morphologic features after exposure to TG emulsions. These effects were prevented by treatment with an antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (0.5 mM). Paraoxon inhibited intracellular TG degradation but did not prevent lipotoxicity and cell death. Olive oil TG triggered macrophage death in a manner similar to soybean oil. Treatment of the macrophages with free fatty acid, mainly with palmitic acid, showed a reactive oxygen species-independent cell death pathway, which was different from that of TG and was not prevented by N-acetyl-cysteine. Conclusion: This study shows a direct lipotoxic pathway for TG molecules in macrophages, which is not associated with degradation of TG molecule to free fatty acids. This study for the first time can explain at a cellular level how TGs as an independent risk factor aggravate atherosclerotic outcomes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant 377/06 from the ISF to Oren Tirosh and Zecharia Madar. The Center of Diabetes Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem supported Anna Aronis with a scholarship.


  • Apoptosis
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Lipids
  • Necrosis
  • Oxidative stress


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