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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Diabetes and Endocrinology - Physiology - Urology

Free Fatty Acid Palmitate Impairs the Vitality and Function of Cultured Human Bladder Smooth Muscle Cells
Published: Friday, July 13, 2012
Author: Andreas Oberbach et al.

by Andreas Oberbach, Nadine Schlichting, Marco Heinrich, Holger Till, Jens-Uwe Stolzenburg, Jochen Neuhaus


Incidence of urinary tract infections is elevated in patients with diabetes mellitus. Those patients show increased levels of the saturated free fatty acid palmitate. As recently shown metabolic alterations induced by palmitate include production and secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukine-6 (IL-6) in cultured human bladder smooth muscle cells (hBSMC). Here we studied the influence of palmitate on vital cell properties, for example, regulation of cell proliferation, mitochondrial enzyme activity and antioxidant capacity in hBSMC, and analyzed the involvement of major cytokine signaling pathways.

Methodology/Principal Findings

HBSMC cultures were set up from bladder tissue of patients undergoing cystectomy and stimulated with palmitate. We analyzed cell proliferation, mitochondrial enzyme activity, and antioxidant capacity by ELISA and confocal immunofluorescence. In signal transduction inhibition experiments we evaluated the involvement of NF-?B, JAK/STAT, MEK1, PI3K, and JNK in major cytokine signaling pathway regulation. We found: (i) palmitate decreased cell proliferation, increased mitochondrial enzyme activity and antioxidant capacity; (ii) direct inhibition of cytokine receptor by AG490 even more strongly suppressed cell proliferation in palmitate-stimulated cells, while counteracting palmitate-induced increase of antioxidant capacity; (iii) in contrast knockdown of the STAT3 inhibitor SOCS3 increased cell proliferation and antioxidant capacity; (iv) further downstream JAK/STAT3 signaling cascade the inhibition of PI3K or JNK enhanced palmitate induced suppression of cell proliferation; (v) increase of mitochondrial enzyme activity by palmitate was enhanced by inhibition of PI3K but counteracted by inhibition of MEK1.


Saturated free fatty acids (e.g., palmitate) cause massive alterations in vital cell functions of cultured hBSMC involving distinct major cytokine signaling pathways. Thereby, certain cytokines might counteract the palmitate-induced downregulation of cell proliferation and vitality. This could be an important link to clinical findings of increased risk of metabolic related bladder diseases such as overactive bladder (OAB) and bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC).