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Production and metabolism of ceramide in normal and ischemic-reperfused myocardium of rats. Basic Res Cardiol 2001 May-Jun;96(3):267-74



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0035040978   58 Citations


Ceramide has been shown to be a key signaling molecule involved in the apoptotic effect of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and other cytokines. Given the importance of cytokines such as TNF-alpha in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury, we hypothesize that ceramide is increased during ischemia or reperfusion, and that the activity of enzymes responsible for its production or breakdown should be increased and/or decreased, respectively. Therefore, in the present study, we characterized the enzymatic activities responsible for ceramide production and metabolism in the myocardium of rats, and determined the contribution of these enzymes to altered ceramide levels during myocardial ischemia and reperfusion. The basal ceramide concentration in the myocardium of rats was 34.0 pmol/mg tissue. As determined by the conversion of 14C-sphingomyelin into ceramide and 14C-choline phosphate, both neutral (N-) and acidic (A-) SMase were detected in the myocardium, with a conversion rate of 0.09 +/- 0.008 and 0.32 +/- 0.05 nmol/min per mg protein, respectively. The activity of A-SMase (78 % of total cellular activity) was significantly higher in microsomes than in cytosol, while the activity of N-SMase was similar in both fractions. Ceramidase, a ceramide-metabolizing enzyme, was also detected in the myocardium of rats. It metabolized ceramide into sphingosine at a rate of 9.94 +/- 0.42 pmol/min per mg protein. In anesthetized rats, 30 min of ischemia had no apparent effect on ceramide concentrations in the myocardium, while 30 min of ischemia followed by 3 h of reperfusion resulted in a significant increase in ceramide by 48 %. The activities of both N- and A-SMase were reduced by 44 % and 32 %, respectively, in the myocardium subjected to ischemia followed by reperfusion, but unaltered in the ischemic myocardium. It was also found that myocardial ischemia followed by reperfusion produced a marked inhibition of ceramidase (by 29 %). These results demonstrate that the myocardium of rats expresses N- and A-SMase and ceramidase, which contribute to the production and metabolism of ceramide, respectively. Tissue ceramide concentrations increased in reperfused myocardium. These increases in ceramide were not associated with enhanced SMase activity, but rather with reduced ceramidase activity.

Author List

Zhang DX, Fryer RM, Hsu AK, Zou AP, Gross GJ, Campbell WB, Li PL


William B. Campbell PhD Chair, Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
David X. Zhang MD, PhD Associate Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Disease Models, Animal
Myocardial Reperfusion Injury
Rats, Wistar
Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase
jenkins-FCD Prod-482 91ad8a360b6da540234915ea01ff80e38bfdb40a