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Br J Pharmacol. 2018 Jul;175(13):2581-2598. doi: 10.1111/bph.14174. Epub 2018 May 22.

4-Hydroxynonenal-induced GPR109A (HCA2 receptor) activation elicits bipolar responses, Gαi -mediated anti-inflammatory effects and Gβγ -mediated cell death.

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College of Pharmacy, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan, Korea.
College of Pharmacy, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.



In this study, we examined the possibility that 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) acting as a ligand for the HCA2 receptor (GPR109A) elicits both anti-inflammatory and cell death responses.


Agonistic activity of 4-HNE was determined by observing the inhibition of cAMP generation in CHO-K1-GPR109A-Gi cell line, using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) binding and competition binding assays with [3 H]-niacin. 4-HNE-mediated signalling pathways and cellular responses were investigated in cells expressing GPR109A and those not expressing these receptors.


Agonistic activity of 4-HNE was stronger than that of niacin or 3-OHBA at inhibiting forskolin-induced cAMP production and SPR binding affinity. In ARPE-19 and CCD-841 cells, activation of GPR109A by high concentrations of the agonists 4-HNE (≥10 μM), niacin (≥1000 μM) and 3-OHBA (≥1000 μM) induced apoptosis accompanied by elevated Ca2+ and superoxide levels. This 4-HNE-induced cell death was blocked by knockdown of GPR109A or NOX4 genes, or treatment with chemical inhibitors of Gβγ (gallein), intracellular Ca2+ (BAPTA-AM), NOX4 (VAS2870) and JNK (SP600125), but not by the cAMP analogue 8-CPT-cAMP. By contrast, low concentrations of 4-HNE, niacin and 3-OHBA down-regulated the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. These 4-HNE-induced inhibitory effects were blocked by a cAMP analogue but not by inhibitors of Gβγ -downstream signalling molecules.


These results revealed that 4-HNE is a strong agonist for GPR109A that induces Gαi -dependent anti-inflammatory and Gβγ -dependent cell death responses. Moreover, the findings indicate that specific intracellular signalling molecules, but not GPR109A, can serve as therapeutic targets to block 4-HNE-induced cell death.

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