Modulation of Fatty Acid-Related Genes in the Response of H9c2 Cardiac Cells to Palmitate and n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Silvia Cetrullo, Stefania D'Adamo, Veronica Panichi, Rosa Maria Borzì, Carla Pignatti, Flavio Flamigni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While high levels of saturated fatty acids are associated with impairment of cardiovascular functions, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to exert protective effects. However the molecular mechanisms underlying this evidence are not completely understood. In the present study we have used rat H9c2 ventricular cardiomyoblasts as a cellular model of lipotoxicity to highlight the effects of palmitate, a saturated fatty acid, on genetic and epigenetic modulation of fatty acid metabolism and fate, and the ability of PUFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid, to contrast the actions that may contribute to cardiac dysfunction and remodeling. Treatment with a high dose of palmitate provoked mitochondrial depolarization, apoptosis, and hypertrophy of cardiomyoblasts. Palmitate also enhanced the mRNA levels of sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), a family of master transcription factors for lipogenesis, and it favored the expression of genes encoding key enzymes that metabolically activate palmitate and commit it to biosynthetic pathways. Moreover, miR-33a, a highly conserved microRNA embedded in an intronic sequence of the SREBP2 gene, was co-expressed with the SREBP2 messenger, while its target carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1b was down-regulated. Manipulation of the levels of miR-33a and SREBPs allowed us to understand their involvement in cell death and hypertrophy. The simultaneous addition of PUFAs prevented the effects of palmitate and protected H9c2 cells. These results may have implications for the control of cardiac metabolism and dysfunction, particularly in relation to dietary habits and the quality of fatty acid intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 26 2020


  • H9c2 cardiomyoblasts
  • apoptosis
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • eicosapentaenoic acid
  • hypertrophy
  • miR-33
  • nutraceuticals
  • palmitic acid

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