Lipid bodies, nonmembrane-bound cytoplasmic inclusions, serve as repositories of esterified arachidonate and are increased in cells associated with inflammatory reactions. We have evaluated stimuli and mechanisms responsible for lipid body formation within human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). Arachidonic acid and oleic acid stimulated dose-dependent formation of lipid bodies over 0.5-1 h. Other C20 and C18 fatty acids were less active and demonstrated rank orders as follows: cis-unsaturated fatty acids were much more active than trans-fatty acids, and activity diminished with decreasing numbers of double bonds. Lipid bodies elicited in vitro with cis-fatty acids were ultrastructurally identical to lipid bodies present in PMNs in vivo. Lipid body induction was not because of fatty acid-elicited oxidants or fatty acid-induced ATP depletion. Cis-fatty acid-induced activation of protein kinase C (PKC) was involved in lipid body formation as evidenced by the capacity of other PKC activators, 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-glycerol and two active phorbol esters, phorbol myristate acetate, and phorbol 12,13 dibutyrate, but not an inactive phorbol, to induce lipid body formation. The PKC inhibitor, 1-O-hexadecyl-2-O-methyl-glycerol, inhibited PMN lipid body formation induced by oleic and arachidonic acids and by 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-glycerol and phorbol myristate acetate. Other PKC inhibitors (staurosporine, H-7) also inhibited lipid body formation. Formation of lipid bodies in PMNs is a specific cellular response, stimulated by cis-fatty acids and diglycerides and apparently mediated by PKC, which results in the mobilization and deposition of lipids within discrete, ultrastructurally defined cytoplasmic domains.

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