Oxidized Phospholipids Induce Ceramide Accumulation in RAW 264.7 Macrophages: Role of Ceramide Synthases

Lingaraju M. Halasiddappa, Harald Koefeler, Anthony H. Futerman, Albin Hermetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oxidized phospholipids (OxPLs), including 1-palmitoyl-2-glutaroyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (PGPC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oxovaleroyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POVPC) are among several biologically active derivatives that are generated during oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). These OxPLs are factors contributing to proatherogenic effects of oxidized LDLs (OxLDLs), including inflammation, proliferation and death of vascular cells. OxLDL also elicits formation of the lipid messenger ceramide (Cer) which plays a pivotal role in apoptotic signaling pathways. Here we report that both PGPC and POVPC are cytotoxic to cultured macrophages and induce apoptosis in these cells which is associated with increased cellular ceramide levels after several hours. In addition, exposure of RAW 264.7 cells to POVPC and PGPC under the same conditions resulted in a significant increase in ceramide synthase activity, whereas, acid or neutral sphingomyelinase activities were not affected. PGPC is not only more toxic than POVPC, but also a more potent inducer of ceramide formation by activating a limited subset of CerS isoforms. The stimulated CerS activities are in line with the C-16-, C-22-, and C-24.0-Cer species that are generated under the influence of the OxPL. Fumonisin B1, a specific inhibitor of CerS, suppressed OxPL-induced ceramide generation, demonstrating that OxPL-induced CerS activity in macrophages is responsible for the accumulation of ceramide. OxLDL elicits the same cellular ceramide and CerS effects. Thus, it is concluded that PGPC and POVPC are active components that contribute to the capacity of this lipoprotein to elevate ceramide levels in macrophages.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


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