The effects of gentamicin on phospholipid levels and metabolism and the uptake of phosphatidylcholine (PC) adsorbed to low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) were investigated in cultured human proximal tubular (PT) cells. Cells incubated with gentamicin (0.3 mM) for one to 21 days had a similar increase in the cell number and protein as compared to control cells. However, the cellular levels of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and sphingomyelin (SM), but not other phospholipids, increased in a time‐dependent manner. Incubation of gentamicin (0.3 to 3.0 mM) resulted in a concentration‐dependent increase in the cellular levels of PC (50% to 320%) and SM (20% to 40%). Gentamicin stimulated the incorporation of [14C]‐acetate into diacylglycerol, PC, and SM in the order of 300%, 66%, and 20%, respectively, but not into lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). Similarly, gentamicin stimulated the incorporation of [14C]‐choline into PC and SM in the order of 300% and 172%, respectively, but not into LPC as compared to control cells. In addition, gentamicin also stimulated the incorporation of [14C]‐choline into cytidine diphosphocholine (CDP‐choline). However, the endocytosis of [14C]‐PC‐LDL was lower in cells incubated with gentamicin than in control cells. Thus, exogenously derived PC on LDL does not contribute to the increased cellular levels of PC in PT cells incubated with gentamicin. The activity of cytidine triphosphate (CTP):phosphocholine cytidyltransferase was moderately lower in cells incubated with gentamicin as compared to control. By contrast, the activity of phospholipase A1 and phospholipase C was twofold lower in cells incubated with gentamicin for 21 days as compared to control. Thus, increased incorporation of [14C]‐acetate and [14C]‐choline into PC in cells incubated with gentamicin may not only be due to increased endogenous synthesis but to decreased catabolism of newly synthesized PC. We conclude that gentamicin impairs the lysosomal catabolism of PC, leading to its accumulation in PT cells. This phenomenon may be an indication of gentamicin‐induced nephrotoxicity in man.
- proximal tubular cells
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