Although polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been shown to stimulate neutrophil responses such as the oxygen-dependent respiratory burst (superoxide production), the mechanisms involved still remain undefined. Here we investigate the effect of PUFA on the phospholipase A2 (PLA2)-signal transduction process in human neutrophils. Exogenous eicosatetraenoic acid [arachidonic acid; C20:4(n-6)] or docosahexaenoic acid [C22:6(n-3)] promoted the release of [3H]C20:4(n-6) from prelabelled neutrophils in a time- and dose-dependent manner, which is indicative of PLA2 activation. The release of [3H]C20:4(n-6) from the cells by C20:4(n-6) and C22:6(n-3) was suppressed by PLA2 inhibitors. Other PUFA {eicosapentaenoic [C20:5(n-3)], octadecatrienoic [γ-linolenic; C18:3(n-6)] and octadecadienoic [linoleic; C18:2(n-6)] acids} also had the ability to release [3H]C20:4(n-6); however, certain C20:4(n-6) derivatives [15-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid, 15-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid and C20:4(n-6) methyl ester] and saturated fatty acids [octadecanoic (stearic; C18:0) and eicosanoic (arachidic; C20:0) acids] had no significant effect. Treatment of the neutrophils with exogenous C22:6(n-3) caused the mass of endogenous unesterified C20:4(n-6) to increase. Incubation of the leucocytes with C20:4(n-6) or C22:6(n-3) evoked activation of the 85 kDa cytosolic PLA2 (cPLA2) and the 14 kDa secretory PLA2 (sPLA2), but not the cytosolic Ca2+-independent PLA2. In contrast, C20:0 did not activate any of the PLA2 isoforms. Activation of cPLA2 by PUFA was found to precede that of sPLA2. C22:6(n-3), C20:4(n-6) and other PUFA induced punctate localization of cPLA2 in the cells, which was not observed with saturated fatty acids. Pretreatment of the leucocytes with PLA2 inhibitors markedly decreased superoxide production induced by C20:4(n-6). These results show that PUFA activate PLA2 in neutrophils, which might have a mandatory role in biological responses.

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