Apolipoprotein L1 (ApoL1) genetic variants are strongly associated with kidney diseases. We investigated the role of ApoL1 variants in monocyte differentiation and eicosanoid production in macrophages, as activated tissue macrophages in kidney might contribute to kidney injury. In human monocyte THP-1 cells, transient overexpression of ApoL1 (G0, G1, G2) by transfection resulted in a 5- to 11-fold increase in CD14 and CD68 gene expression, similar to that seen with phorbol-12-myristate acetate treatment. All ApoL1 variants caused monocytes to differentiate into atypical M1 macrophages with marked increase in M1 markers CD80, TNF, IL1B, and IL6 and modest increase in the M2 marker CD163 compared with control cells. ApoL1-G1 transfection induced additional CD206 and TGFB1 expression, and ApoL1-G2 transfection induced additional CD204 and TGFB1 expression. Gene expression of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthase and thromboxane synthase and both gene and protein expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) were increased by ApoL1-G1 and -G2 variants compared with -G0 transfection. Higher levels of PGE2 and thromboxane B2, a stable metabolite of thromboxane A2, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 were released into the supernatant of cultured THP-1 cells transfected with ApoL1-G1 and -G2, but not -G0. The increase in PGE2, thromboxane B2, and TGF-β1 was inhibited by COX-2-specific inhibitor CAY10404 but not by COX-1-specific inhibitor SC-560. These results demonstrate a novel role of ApoL1 variants in the regulation of monocyte differentiation and eicosanoid metabolism, which could modify the immune response and promote inflammatory signaling within the local targeted organs and tissues including the kidney.
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