Fatty acid handling and complex lipid synthesis are altered in the kidney cortex of diabetic patients. We recently showed that inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system without changes in glycemia can reverse diabetic kidney disease (DKD) and restore the lipid metabolic network in the kidney cortex of diabetic (db/db) mice, raising the possibility that lipid remodeling may play a central role in DKD. However, the roles of specific enzymes involved in lipid remodeling in DKD have not been elucidated. In the present study, we used this diabetic mouse model and a proximal tubule epithelial cell line (HK2) to investigate the potential relationship between long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase 1 (ACSL1) and lipid metabolism in response to fatty acid exposure and inflammatory signals. We found ACSL1 expression was significantly increased in the kidney cortex of db/db mice, and exposure to palmitate (PA) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) significantly increased Acsl1 mRNA expression in HK-2 cells. In addition, PA treatment significantly increased the levels of long-chain acylcarnitines and fatty acyl CoAs in HK2 cells, and these increases were abolished in HK2 cell lines with specific deletion of Acsl1(Acsl1KO cells), suggesting a key role for ACSL1 in fatty acid β-oxidation. In contrast, TNF-α treatment significantly increased the levels short-chain acylcarnitines and long-chain fatty acyl CoAs in HK2 cells but not in Acsl1KO cells, consistent with fatty acid channeling to complex lipids. Taken together, our data demonstrate a key role for ACSL1 in regulating lipid metabolism, fatty acid partitioning, and inflammation.

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