Monocytes are professional immune cells that produce abundant levels of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids including prostaglandins and leukotrienes during inflammation. Vacuolar (H+)-ATPase (V-ATPase) is critically involved in a variety of inflammatory processes including cytokine trafficking and lipid mediator biosynthesis. However, its role in eicosanoid biosynthetic pathways in monocytes remains elusive. Here, we present a differential role of V-ATPase in the expression and in the activity of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 in human monocytes. Pharmacological targeting of V-ATPase increased the expression of COX-2 protein in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated primary monocytes, which was paralleled by enhanced phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and ERK-1/2, without impacting the NF-kappa B and SAPK/JNK pathways. Targeting of both p38 MAPK and ERK-1/2 pathways showed that the kinase pathways are crucial for COX-2 expression in human monocytes. Despite increased COX-2 protein levels, however, suppression of V-ATPase activity impaired the biosynthesis of COX- and also of 5-lipoxygenase (LOX)-derived lipid mediators in monocytes without affecting 12-/15-LOX products, assessed by a metabololipidomics approach using UPLC-MS-MS analysis. Our results indicate that changes in the intracellular pH may contribute to suppression of COX-2 and 5-LOX activities. We suggest that V-ATPase on one hand limits COX-2 protein levels via restricting p38 MAPK and ERK-1/2 activation, while on the other hand it governs the cellular activity of COX-2 through appropriate adjustment of the intracellular pH.
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