Soluble epoxide hydrolase 2 expression is elevated in obese humans and decreased by physical activity

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Epoxide hydrolase 2 (EPHX2) is an emerging therapeutic target in several immunometabolic disorders. EPHX2 metabolizes anti-inflammatory epoxyeicosatrienoic acids into pro-inflammatory diols. The contribution of EPHX2 activity to human obesity remains unexplored. We compared the expression of EPHX2 between lean and obese humans (n = 20 each) in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) using RT-PCR, Western Blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy before and after a 3-month physical activity regimen. We also assessed EPHX2 levels during preadipocyte differentiation in humans and mice. EPHX2 mRNA and protein expression were significantly elevated in obese subjects, with concomitant elevated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress components (the 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein; GRP78, and the Activating transcription factor 6; ATF6) and inflammatory markers (Tumor necrosis factor-α; TNFα, and Interleukin 6; IL6) as compared to controls (p < 0.05). EPHX2 mRNA levels strongly correlated with adiposity markers. In obese individuals, physical activity attenuated EPHX2 expression levels in both the SAT and PBMCs, with a parallel decrease in ER stress and inflammation markers. EPHX2 expression was also elevated during differentiation of both human primary and 3T3-L1 mouse preadipocytes. Mediators of cellular stress (palmitate, homocysteine, and macrophage culture medium) also increased EPHX2 expression in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Our findings suggest that EPHX2 upregulation is linked to ER stress in adiposity and that physical activity may attenuate metabolic stress by reducing EPHX2 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2056
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020


  • Diabetes
  • EPHX2
  • Exercise
  • Obesity
  • SEH


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