1-Nitropyrene (1-NP) is a nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (nitro-PAH) present in diesel exhaust and bound to particular matter in urban air. We show that 1-NP and the referent PAH benzo(a)pyrene (BP) induce apoptosis and a lipid accumulation dependent on cytochrome P450 1A1-metabolites in mouse hepatoma cells, whereas 1-amino-pyrene had no effect. The caspase inhibitor, N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp(O-Me) fluoromethyl ketone (Z-VAD-fmk), inhibits 1-NP-induced apoptosis, but failed to alter 1-NP-triggered lipid accumulation determined by Nile red staining. We further show that cholesterol and fatty acid contents are modified after nitro-PAH exposure and that 1-NP-induced cholesterol level is partially involved in related apoptosis. In parallel, the activity of the stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1), determined by fatty acid analysis, and its expression are reduced by 1-NP. The role of SCD1 in 1-NP-induced apoptosis is demonstrated in cells down-expressing SCD1, in which an increased apoptosis is observed, whereas the SCD1 overexpression elicits the opposite effects. In contrast, changes in SCD1 gene expression have no effect on the induced lipid accumulation. Moreover, 1-NP increases the activity of the AMP-dependent protein kinase (AMPK) leading to a caspase-independent apoptosis. Overall, our study demonstrates that the 1-NP-induced apoptosis is caspase- and AMPK-dependent, and is associated to a decrease of SCD1 expression which results in an alteration of lipid homeostasis.
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