Obesity is associated with monocyte-macrophage accumulation in adipose tissue. Previously, we showed that glucose-stimulated production by adipocytes of serum amyloid A (SAA), monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, and hyaluronan (HA) facilitated monocyte accumulation. The current objective was to determine how the other major nutrient, free fatty acids (FFAs), affects these molecules and monocyte recruitment by adipocytes.


Differentiated 3T3-L1, Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome adipocytes, and mouse embryonic fibroblasts were exposed to various FFAs (250 µmol/l) in either 5 or 25 mmol/l (high) glucose for evaluation of SAA, MCP-1, and HA regulation in vitro.


Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) such as laurate, myristate, and palmitate increased cellular triglyceride accumulation, SAA, and MCP-1 expression; generated reactive oxygen species (ROS); and increased nuclear factor (NF) B translocation in both 5 and 25 mmol/l glucose. Conversely, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as arachidonate, eicosapentaenate, and docosahexaenate (DHA) decreased these events. Gene expression could be dissociated from triglyceride accumulation. Although excess glucose increased HA content, SFAs, oleate, and linoleate did not. Antioxidant treatment repressed glucose- and palmitate-stimulated ROS generation and NFB translocation and decreased SAA and MCP-1 expression and monocyte chemotaxis. Silencing toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) markedly reduced SAA and MCP-1 expression in response to palmitate but not glucose. DHA suppressed NFB translocation stimulated by both excess glucose and palmitate via a peroxisome prolifterator–activated receptor (PPAR) –dependent pathway.


Excess glucose and SFAs regulate chemotactic factor expression by a mechanism that involves ROS generation, NFB, and PPAR, and which is repressed by PUFAs. Certain SFAs, but not excess glucose, trigger chemotactic factor expression via a TLR4-dependent pathway.


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