Folate plays an essential role in one-carbon metabolism, and a relationship exists between methyl group metabolism and pancreatic exocrine function. Little however is known about the mechanism(s) and regulation of folate uptake by pancreatic acinar cells and the effect of chronic alcohol use on the process. We addressed these issues using the rat-derived pancreatic acinar cell line AR42J and freshly isolated primary rat pancreatic acinar cells as models. We found 3H-folic acid uptake to be: 1) temperature- and pH- dependent with a higher uptake at acidic than at neutral/alkaline pH; 2) saturable as a function of substrate concentration at both buffer pH 7.4 and 6.0; 3) inhibited by folate structural analogues and by anion transport inhibitors at both buffer pH 7.4 and 6.0; 4) trans-stimulated by unlabelled folate; 5) adaptively regulated by the prevailing extracellular folate level, and 6) inhibited by modulators of the cAMP/PKA-mediated pathway. Both the reduced folate carrier (RFC) and the proton coupled folate transporter (PCFT) were found to be expressed in AR42J and in primary pancreatic acinar cells, as well as in native human pancreas with expression of RFC being higher than PCFT. Chronic alcohol feeding of rats (4 weeks; 36 % of calories from ethanol) led to a significant decrease in folate uptake by freshly isolated primary pancreatic acinar cells compared to cells from pair-fed controls; this effect was associated with a parallel decrease in the level of expression of RFC and PCFT. These studies reveal that folate uptake by pancreatic acinar cells is via a regulated carrier-mediated process which may involve RFC and PCFT. In addition, chronic alcohol feeding leads to a marked inhibition in folate uptake by pancreatic acinar cells, an effect that is associated with reduction in level of expression of RFC and PCFT.
- Copyright © 2010, American Journal of Physiology- Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology