Institute of Gerontology, Department of Geriatrics, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 1095 JieFang Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that mediates a broad range of cellular antioxidative, detoxification and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the precise mechanism by which Nrf2 regulates inflammation and metabolism in macrophages remains controversial and unclear. To further clarify the roles of Nrf2 in inflammation and glucose metabolism regulation, retrovirus-mediated knockdown of Nrf2 was performed in murine RAW264.7 macrophages, and the cells were stimulated with 100 ng/mL lipopolysaccharide for 24 h for M1 activation. qPCR and western blotting results indicated that Nrf2 knockdown significantly enhanced expression of the inflammatory genes Il1a and Il1b in unstimulated macrophages and increased expression of the inflammatory genes Il1a, Il1b, Il6, Il10, Ccl2, Ccl22, and CD38 but decreased that of Tnfa and Tgfb1 in M1 macrophages. Nrf2 knockdown also significantly elevated IL6 and IL10 secretion by M1 macrophages. Western blotting showed that Nrf2 knockdown reduced iNOS protein levels in resting macrophages and enhanced CD38 protein levels in both resting and M1 macrophages. The differential regulation of these macrophage inflammation and polarization markers by Nrf2 reveals multiple roles for Nrf2 in regulating inflammation in macrophages. Moreover, Nrf2 knockdown increased the Glu4 protein level and decreased AKT and GSK3β protein phosphorylation in M1 macrophages, suggesting multiple roles for Nrf2 in regulating glucose metabolism in macrophages. Overall, our results are the first to demonstrate mixed inflammation and glucose metabolism regulatory effects of Nrf2 in macrophages that may occur independent of its classic function in redox regulation. These findings support the potential of Nrf2 as a therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of inflammation- and obesity-associated syndromes, including diabetes and atherosclerosis.