Extracellular nampt promotes macrophage survival via a nonenzymatic interleukin-6/STAT3 signaling mechanism

Yankun Li, Yuan Zhang, Bernhard Dorweiler, Dongying Cui, Tao Wang, Connie W. Woo, Cynthia S. Brunkan, Cynthia Wolberger, Shin Ichiro Imai, Ira Tabas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Macrophages play key roles in obesity-associated pathophysiology, including inflammation, atherosclerosis, and cancer, and processes that affect the survival-death balance of macrophages may have an important impact on obesity-related diseases. Adipocytes and other cells secrete a protein called extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNampt; also known as pre-B cell colony enhancing factor or visfatin), and plasma levels of eNampt increase in obesity. Herein we tested the hypothesis that eNampt could promote cell survival in macrophages subjected to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, a process associated with obesity and obesity-associated diseases. We show that eNampt potently blocks macrophage apoptosis induced by a number of ER stressors. The mechanism involves a two-step sequential process: rapid induction of interleukin 6 (IL-6) secretion, followed by IL-6-mediated autocrine/paracrine activation of the prosurvival signal transducer STAT3. The ability of eNampt to trigger this IL-6/STAT3 cell survival pathway did not depend on the presence of the Nampt enzymatic substrate nicotinamide in the medium, could not be mimicked by the Nampt enzymatic product nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), was not blocked by the Nampt enzyme inhibitor FK866, and showed no correlation with enzyme activity in a series of site-directed mutant Nampt proteins. Thus, eNampt protects macrophages from ER stress-induced apoptosis by activating an IL-6/STAT3 signaling pathway via a nonenzymatic mechanism. These data suggest a novel action and mechanism of eNampt that could affect the balance of macrophage survival and death in the setting of obesity, which in turn could play important roles in obesity-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34833-34843
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 12 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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