Adiponectin inhibits neutrophil apoptosis via activation of AMP kinase, PKB and ERK 1/2 MAP kinase

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Neutrophils are abundant, short-lived leukocytes that play a key role in the immune defense against microbial infections. These cells die by apoptosis following activation and uptake of microbes and will also enter apoptosis spontaneously at the end of their lifespan if they do not encounter a pathogen. Adiponectin exerts anti-inflammatory effects on neutrophil antimicrobial functions, but whether this abundant adipokine influences neutrophil apoptosis is unknown. Here we report that adiponectin in the physiological range (1-10 μg/ml) reduced apoptosis in resting neutrophils, decreasing caspase-3 cleavage and maintaining Mcl-1 expression by stabilizing this anti-apoptotic protein. We show that adiponectin induced phosphorylation of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), protein kinase B (PKB), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK 1/2) and p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK). Pharmacological inhibition of AMPK, PKB and ERK 1/2 ablated the pro-survival effects of adiponectin and treatment of neutrophils with an AMPK specific activator (AICAR) and AMPK inhibitor (compound C) respectively decreased and increased apoptosis. Finally, activation of AMPK by AICAR or adiponectin also decreased ceramide accumulation in the neutrophil cell membrane, a process involved in the early stages of spontaneous apoptosis, giving another possible mechanism downstream of AMPK activation for the inhibition of neutrophil apoptosis.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-80
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases, Adiponectin, Apoptosis, Humans, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases, Neutrophils, Phosphorylation, Signal Transduction