We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
Sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and the present studies have determined individually how sorafenib and vorinostat contribute to CD95 activation. Sorafenib (3-6 μM) promoted a dose-dependent increase in Src Y416, ERBB1 Y845 and CD95 Y232/Y291 phosphorylation, and Src Y527 dephosphorylation. Low levels of sorafenib (3 μM) –induced CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation did not promote surface localization whereas sorafenib (6 μM), or sorafenib (3 μM) and vorinostat (500 nM) treatment promoted higher levels of CD95 phosphorylation that correlated with DISC formation, receptor surface localization and autophagy. CD95 (Y232F, Y291F) was not tyrosine phosphorylated and was unable to plasma membrane localize or induce autophagy. Knock down / knock out of Src family kinases abolished sorafenib –induced: CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation; DISC formation; and the induction of cell death and autophagy. Knock down of PDGFRβ enhanced Src Y416 and CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation that correlated with elevated CD95 plasma membrane levels and autophagy, and with a reduced ability of sorafenib to promote CD95 membrane localization. Vorinostat increased ROS levels; and in a delayed NFκB-dependent fashion, those of FAS ligand and CD95. Neutralization of FAS-L did not alter the initial rapid drug-induced activation of CD95 however, neutralization of FAS-L reduced sorafenib + vorinostat toxicity by ~50%. Thus sorafenib contributes to CD95 activation by promoting receptor tyrosine phosphorylation whereas vorinostat contributes to CD95 activation via initial facilitation of ROS generation and subsequently of FAS-L expression.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; FAS-L; cell death; autophagy
Purpose and Design
Mechanism(s) by which the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib and the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat interact to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells have been defined.
Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interacted in vitro in a synergistic fashion to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in multiple short term viability (24–96h) and in long term colony formation assays. Cell killing was suppressed by inhibition of cathepsin proteases and caspase 8, and to a lesser extent by inhibition of caspase 9. Twenty four hours after exposure, the activities of ERK1/2, AKT and NFκB were only modestly modulated by sorafenib and vorinostat treatment. However, 24h after exposure, sorafenib and vorinostat- treated cells exhibited markedly diminished expression of c-FLIP-s, full length BID, BCL-2, BCLXL, MCL-1, XIAP, increased expression of BIM, and increased activation of BAX, BAK and BAD. Expression of eIF2α S51A blocked sorafenib and vorinostat –induced suppression of c-FLIP-s levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s abolished lethality. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment increased surface levels of CD95 and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression significantly reduced sorafenib / vorinostat -mediated lethality.
These data demonstrate that combined exposure of epithelial tumor cell types to sorafenib and vorinostat diminishes expression of multiple anti-apoptotic proteins, promotes activation of the CD95 extrinsic apoptotic and the lysosomal protease pathways, and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression represents a critical event in transduction of the pro-apoptotic signals from CD95 to promote mitochondrial dysfunction and death.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; caspase 8; cathepsin; cell death
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
The de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of excessive lung apoptosis and murine emphysema. Intracellular and paracellular-generated ceramides may trigger apoptosis and propagate the death signals to neighboring cells, respectively. In this study we compared the sphingolipid signaling pathways triggered by the paracellular- versus intracellular-generated ceramides as they induce lung endothelial cell apoptosis, a process important in emphysema development. Intermediate–chain length (C8:0) extracellular ceramides, used as a surrogate of paracellular ceramides, triggered caspase-3 activation in primary mouse lung endothelial cells, similar to TNF-α–generated endogenous ceramides. Inhibitory siRNA against serine palmitoyl transferase subunit 1 but not acid sphingomyelinase inhibited both C8:0 ceramide– and TNF-α (plus cycloheximide)–induced apoptosis, consistent with the requirement for activation of the de novo pathway of sphingolipid synthesis. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis detected increases in both relative and absolute levels of C16:0 ceramide in response to C8:0 and TNF-α treatments. These results implicate the de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis in the apoptotic effects of both paracellular ceramides and TNF-α–stimulated intracellular ceramides in primary lung endothelial cells. The serine palmitoyl synthase-regulated ceramides synthesis may contribute to the amplification of pulmonary vascular injury induced by excessive ceramides.
apoptosis; lung; cytokines; signaling; sphingolipids
Alveolar cell apoptosis is involved in the pathogenesis of emphysema, a prevalent disease primarily caused by cigarette smoking. We report that ceramide, a second messenger lipid, is a critical mediator of alveolar destruction in emphysema. Inhibition of enzymes controlling de novo ceramide synthesis prevented alveolar cell apoptosis, oxidative stress and emphysema caused by blockade of the VEGF receptors in both rats and mice. Emphysema was reproduced with intra-tracheal instillation of ceramide in naïve mice. A feed-forward mechanism of ceramide synthesis due secretory acid sphingomyelinase was supported by the neutralizing effects of ceramide-specific antibody in mice and by sphingomyelinase-deficient fibroblasts. Stimulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling prevented lung apoptosis, implicating that ceramide to sphingosine-1-phosphate balance is required for maintenance of alveolar septal integrity. Finally, increased lung ceramides in patients with smoking-induced emphysema position ceramide upregulation as a critical pathogenetic element and a promising target in this disease lacking effective therapies.
Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation in senile plaques, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), has been implicated in neuronal degeneration. We have recently demonstrated that Aβ induced oligodendrocyte (OLG) apoptosis, suggesting a role in white matter pathology in AD. Here, we explore the molecular mechanisms involved in Aβ-induced OLG death, examining the potential role of ceramide, a known apoptogenic mediator. Both Aβ and ceramide induced OLG death. In addition, Aβ activated neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase), but not acidic sphingomyelinase, resulting in increased ceramide generation. Blocking ceramide degradation with N-oleoyl-ethanolamine exacerbated Aβ cytotoxicity; and addition of bacterial sphingomyelinase (mimicking cellular nSMase activity) induced OLG death. Furthermore, nSMase inhibition by 3-O-methyl-sphingomyelin or by gene knockdown using antisense oligonucleotides attenuated Aβ-induced OLG death. Glutathione (GSH) precursors inhibited Aβ activation of nSMase and prevented OLG death, whereas GSH depletors increased nSMase activity and Aβ-induced death. These results suggest that Aβ induces OLG death by activating the nSMase–ceramide cascade via an oxidative mechanism.
Alzheimer's disease; apoptosis; cell death; oxidative stress; white matter
We previously established a role for the second messenger ceramide in protein kinase R (PKR)-mediated articular cartilage degradation. Ceramide is known to play a dual role in collagen gene regulation, with the effect of ceramide on collagen promoter activity being dependent on its concentration. Treatment of cells with low doses of sphingomyelinase produces small increases in endogenous ceramide. We investigated whether ceramide influences articular chondrocyte matrix homeostasis and, if so, the role of PKR in this process. Bovine articular chondrocytes were stimulated for 7 days with sphingomyelinase to increase endogenous levels of ceramide. To inhibit PKR, 2-aminopurine was added to duplicate cultures. De novo sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen synthesis were measured by adding [35S]-sulphate and [3H]-proline to the media, respectively. Chondrocyte phenotype was investigated using RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Over 7 days, sphingomyelinase increased the release of newly synthesized sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen into the media, whereas inhibition of PKR in sphingomyelinase-treated cells reduced the level of newly synthesized sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen. Sphingomyelinase treated chondrocytes expressed col2a1 mRNA, which is indicative of a normal chondrocyte phenotype; however, a significant reduction in type II collagen protein was detected. Therefore, small increments in endogenous ceramide in chondrocytes appear to push the homeostatic balance toward extracellular matrix synthesis but at the expense of the chondrocytic phenotype, which was, in part, mediated by PKR.
Ceramides are signaling sphingolipids involved in cellular homeostasis but also in pathological processes such as unwanted apoptosis, growth arrest, oxidative stress, or senescence. Several enzymatic pathways are responsible for the synthesis of ceramides, which can be activated in response to exogenous stimuli such as cytokines, radiation, or oxidative stress. Endothelial cells are particularly rich in acid sphingomyelinases, which can be rapidly activated to produce ceramides, both intracellular and at the plasma membrane. In addition, neutral sphingomyelinases, the de novo pathway and the ceramide recycling pathway, may generate excessive ceramides involved in endothelial cell responses. When up-regulated, ceramides trigger signaling pathways that culminate in endothelial cell death, which in murine lungs has been linked to the development of emphysema-like disease. Furthermore, ceramides may be released paracellularly where they are believed to exert paracrine activities. Such effects, along with ceramides released by inflammatory mediators, may contribute to lung inflammation and pulmonary edema, because ceramide-challenged pulmonary endothelial cells exhibit decreased barrier function, independent of apoptosis. Reestablishing the sphingolipid homeostasis, either by modulating ceramide synthesis or by opposing its biological effects through augmentation of the prosurvival sphingosine-1 phosphate, may alleviate acute or chronic pulmonary conditions characterized by vascular endothelial cell death or dysfunction.
sphingolipids; apoptosis; pulmonary emphysema; acute lung injury; pulmonary circulation
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection can be fatal to immunocompromised individuals. We have previously reported that gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) synergistically inhibit HCMV replication in vitro. Ceramides have been described as second messengers induced by TNF-α. To investigate the mechanisms involved in the inhibition of HCMV by TNF-α, in the present study we have analyzed ceramide production by U373 MG astrocytoma cells and the effects of TNF-α versus ceramides on HCMV replication. Our results show that U373 MG cells did not produce ceramides upon incubation with TNF-α. Moreover, long-chain ceramides induced by treatment with exogenous bacterial sphingomyelinase inhibited HCMV replication in synergy with TNF-α. Surprisingly, short-chain permeant C6-ceramide increased viral replication. Our results show that the anti-HCMV activity of TNF-α is independent of ceramides. In addition, our results suggest that TNF-α and endogenous long-chain ceramides use separate pathways of cell signalling to inhibit HCMV replication, while permeant C6-ceramide appears to activate a third pathway leading to an opposite effect.
Muscle atrophy associated with various pathophysiological conditions represents a major health problem, because of its contribution to the deterioration of patient status and its effect on mortality. Although the involvement of pro-inflammatory cytokines in this process is well recognized, the role of sphingolipid metabolism alterations induced by the cytokines has received little attention.
We addressed this question both in vitro using differentiated myotubes treated with TNF-α, and in vivo in a murine model of tumor-induced cachexia. Myotube atrophy induced by TNF-α was accompanied by a substantial increase in cell ceramide levels, and could be mimicked by the addition of exogenous ceramides. It could be prevented by the addition of ceramide-synthesis inhibitors that targeted either the de novo pathway (myriocin), or the sphingomyelinases (GW4869 and 3-O-methylsphingomyelin). In the presence of TNF-α, ceramide-synthesis inhibitors significantly increased protein synthesis and decreased proteolysis. In parallel, they lowered the expression of both the Atrogin-1 and LC3b genes, involved in muscle protein degradation by proteasome and in autophagic proteolysis, respectively, and increased the proportion of inactive, phosphorylated Foxo3 transcription factor. Furthermore, these inhibitors increased the expression and/or phosphorylation levels of key factors regulating protein metabolism, including phospholipase D, an activator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), and the mTOR substrates S6K1 and Akt. In vivo, C26 carcinoma implantation induced a substantial increase in muscle ceramide, together with drastic muscle atrophy. Treatment of the animals with myriocin reduced the expression of the atrogenes Foxo3 and Atrogin-1, and partially protected muscle tissue from atrophy.
Ceramide accumulation induced by TNF-α or tumor development participates in the mechanism of muscle-cell atrophy, and sphingolipid metabolism is a logical target for pharmacological or nutritional interventions aiming at preserving muscle mass in pathological situations.
Recent investigations provided evidence that the sphingomyelin signal transduction pathway mediates apoptosis for tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in several hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells. In this pathway, TNF-receptor interaction initiates sphingomyelin hydrolysis to ceramide by a sphingomyelinase. Ceramide acts as a second messenger stimulating a ceramide-activated serine/threonine protein kinase. The present studies show that ionizing radiation, like TNF, induces rapid sphingomyelin hydrolysis to ceramide and apoptosis in bovine aortic endothelial cells. Elevation of ceramide with exogenous ceramide analogues was sufficient for induction of apoptosis. Protein kinase C activation blocked both radiation-induced sphingomyelin hydrolysis and apoptosis, and apoptosis was restored by ceramide analogues added exogenously. Ionizing radiation acted directly on membrane preparations devoid of nuclei, stimulating sphingomyelin hydrolysis enzymatically through a neutral sphingomyelinase. These studies provide the first conclusive evidence that apoptotic signaling can be generated by interaction of ionizing radiation with cellular membranes and suggest an alternative to the hypothesis that direct DNA damage mediates radiation-induced cell kill.
Sphingolipids have emerged as bioeffector molecules, controlling various aspects of cell growth and proliferation in cancer, which is becoming the deadliest disease in the world. These lipid molecules have also been implicated in the mechanism of action of cancer chemotherapeutics. Ceramide, the central molecule of sphingolipid metabolism, generally mediates antiproliferative responses, such as cell growth inhibition, apoptosis induction, senescence modulation, endoplasmic reticulum stress responses and/or autophagy. Interestingly, recent studies suggest de novo-generated ceramides may have distinct and opposing roles in the promotion/suppression of tumors, and that these activities are based on their fatty acid chain lengths, subcellular localization and/or direct downstream targets. For example, in head and neck cancer cells, ceramide synthase 6/C16-ceramide addiction was revealed, and this was associated with increased tumor growth, whereas downregulation of its synthesis resulted in ER stress-induced apoptosis. By contrast, ceramide synthase 1-generated C18-ceramide has been shown to suppress tumor growth in various cancer models, both in situ and in vivo. In addition, ceramide metabolism to generate sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) by sphingosine kinases 1 and 2 mediates, with or without the involvement of G-protein-coupled S1P receptor signaling, prosurvival, angiogenesis, metastasis and/or resistance to drug-induced apoptosis. Importantly, recent findings regarding the mechanisms by which sphingolipid metabolism and signaling regulate tumor growth and progression, such as identifying direct intracellular protein targets of sphingolipids, have been key for the development of new chemotherapeutic strategies. Thus, in this article, we will present conclusions of recent studies that describe opposing roles of de novo-generated ceramides by ceramide synthases and/or S1P in the regulation of cancer pathogenesis, as well as the development of sphingolipid-based cancer therapeutics and drug resistance.
apoptosis; autophagy; chemoresistance; endoplasmic reticulum stress; sphingolipid; sphingolipid; protein binding
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common human demyelinating disease of the central nervous system where oxidative stress has been proposed to play an important role in oligodendroglial death. However, molecular mechanisms that couple oxidative stress to the loss of oligodendrocytes are poorly understood. This study underlines the importance of neutral sphingomyelinase–ceramide pathway in mediating oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and cell death of human primary oligodendrocytes. Various oxidative stress-inducing agents, such as, superoxide radical produced by hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase, hydrogen peroxide, aminotriazole capable of inhibiting catalase and increasing intracellular level of H2O2, or reduced glutathione-depleting diamide induced the activation of neutral sphingomyelinase and the production of ceramide. It is interesting to note that antisense knockdown of neutral but not acidic sphingomyelinase ablated oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and cell death in human primary oligodendrocytes. This study identifies neutral but not acidic sphingomyelinase as a target for possible therapeutic intervention in MS.
oligodendrocytes; cell death; oxidative stress; ceramide; neutral sphingomyelinase; antisense knockdown
Tumor escape is linked to multiple mechanisms, notably the liberation, by tumor cells, of soluble factors that inhibit the function of dendritic cells (DC). We have shown that melanoma gangliosides impair DC differentiation and induce their apoptosis. The present study was aimed to give insight into the mechanisms involved. DC apoptosis was independent of the catabolism of gangliosides since lactosylceramide did not induce cell death. Apoptosis induced by GM3 and GD3 gangliosides was not blocked by inhibitors of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, whereas the acid sphingomyelinase inhibitor desipramine only prevented apoptosis induced by GM3. Furthermore, our results suggest that DC apoptosis was triggered via caspase activation, and it was ROS dependent with GD3 ganglioside, suggesting that GM3 and GD3 induced apoptosis through different mechanisms.
acid sphingomyelinase; apoptosis; ceramides; dendritic cells; gangliosides; melanoma
Despite the availability of several Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, advanced inoperable colorectal cancer remains incurable. In this study, we focused on the development of combined molecular targeted therapies against colon cancer by testing the efficacy of the combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib to determine if this resulted in synergistic antitumor effects against colorectal cancer. The effects of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat in combination with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib on the growth of two colorectal cancer cell lines were assessed with regard to proliferation, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis. Treatment with the combination of vorinostat and bortezomib resulted in a synergistic decrease in proliferation of both colorectal cancer cell lines compared with treatment with single agents alone. This inhibition was associated with a synergistic increase in apoptosis as measured by caspase-3/7 activity and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. In addition, we observed an increase in the proapoptotic protein BIM and in the number of cells arrested in the G2-M phase of the cell cycle. Although p21 levels were significantly increased, short hairpin RNA knockdown of p21 did not lead to changes in proliferation in response to the combination of drugs, indicating that although p21 is a target of these drugs, it is not required to mediate their antiproliferative effects. These data indicate that combination treatment with vorinostat and bortezomib result in synergistic antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects against colon cancer cell lines, providing a rational basis for the clinical use of this combination for the treatment of colorectal cancer.
Sindbis virus (SV) causes acute encephalomyelitis by infecting and inducing the death of neurons. Induction of apoptosis occurs during virus entry and involves acid-induced conformational changes in the viral surface glycoproteins and sphingomyelin (SM)-dependent fusion of the virus envelope with the endosomal membrane. We have studied neuroblastoma cells to determine how this entry process triggers cell death. Acidic sphingomyelinase was activated during entry followed by activation of neutral sphingomyelinase, SM degradation, and a sustained increase in ceramide. Ceramide-induced apoptosis and SV-induced apoptosis could be inhibited by treatment with Z-VAD-fmk, a caspase inhibitor, and by overexpression of Bcl-2, an antiapoptotic cellular protein. Acid ceramidase, expressed in a recombinant SV, decreased intracellular ceramide and protected cells from apoptosis. The data suggest that acid-induced SM-dependent virus fusion initiates the apoptotic cascade by inducing SM degradation and ceramide release.
Proteases are now firmly established as major regulators of the “execution” phase of apoptosis. Here, we examine the role of proteases and their relationship to ceramide, a proposed mediator of apoptosis, in the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)–induced pathway of cell death. Ceramide induced activation of prICE, the protease that cleaves the death substrate poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Bcl-2 inhibited ceramide-induced death, but not ceramide generation. In contrast, Cytokine response modifier A (CrmA), a potent inhibitor of Interleukin-1β converting enzyme and related proteases, inhibited ceramide generation and prevented TNF-α–induced death. Exogenous ceramide could overcome the CrmA block to cell death, but not the Bcl-2 block. CrmA, however, did not inhibit the activation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB by TNF-α, demonstrating that other signaling functions of TNF-α remain intact and that ceramide does not play a role in the activation of NF-κB. These studies support a distinct role for proteases in the signaling/activation phase of apoptosis acting upstream of ceramide formation.
Ceramides are the main lipids in the stratum corneum and are generated during cellular stress and apoptosis by de novo synthesis or by the action of sphingomyelinase. In addition, they are lipid second messengers produced by sphingolipid metabolism and trigger important cell responses, including protein kinase C-alpha (PKC-α) activation and the stimulation of signal transduction pathways with apoptosis and stress-activated protein kinases (SAPK), such as c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Thus, ceramides have anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects. This study measured the changes in the levels of epidermal ceramides and ceramide-related apoptotic signaling molecules in psoriasis patients. Samples from lesional and non-lesional epidermis were obtained from psoriasis patients. Total ceramides were fractionated using thin-layer chromatography, and the levels of PKC-α and JNK expression were measured using Western blot analysis with specific antibodies. The ceramide level was reduced significantly, and this was associated with the downregulation of apoptotic signaling molecules, such as PKC-α and JNK, in the lesional epidermis of psoriasis patients. These results suggest that the decreased level of ceramides downregulates the apoptotic pathway, leading to epidermal proliferation in psoriasis.
Apoptosis; Ceramides; JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases; Protein Kinase C-alpha; Psoriasis
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is a proinflammatory cytokine that activates several signaling cascades. We determined the extent to which ceramide is a second messenger for TNF-α-induced signaling leading to cytoskeletal rearrangement in Rat2 fibroblasts. TNF-α, sphingomyelinase, or C2-ceramide induced tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin, and stress fiber formation. Ly 294002, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-K) inhibitor, or expression of dominant/negative Ras (N17) completely blocked C2-ceramide- and sphingomyelinase-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of FAK and paxillin and severely decreased stress fiber formation. The TNF-α effects were only partially inhibited. Dimethylsphingosine, a sphingosine kinase (SK) inhibitor, blocked stress fiber formation by TNF-α and C2-ceramide. TNF-α, sphingomyelinase, and C2-ceramide translocated Cdc42, Rac, and RhoA to membranes, and stimulated p21-activated protein kinase downstream of Ras-GTP, PI 3-K, and SK. Transfection with inactive RhoA inhibited the TNF-α- and C2-ceramide-induced stress fiber formation. Our results demonstrate that stimulation by TNF-α, which increases sphingomyelinase activity and ceramide formation, activates sphingosine kinase, Rho family GTPases, focal adhesion kinase, and paxillin. This novel pathway of ceramide signaling can account for ∼70% of TNF-α-induced stress fiber formation and cytoskeletal reorganization.
Vorinostat, an oral histone deacetylase inhibitor with anti-tumor activity, is in clinical trials for hematological and solid tumors that metastasize and compromise bone structure. Consequently, there is a requirement to establish the effects of vorinostat on tumor growth within bone. Breast (MDA-231) and prostate (PC3) cancer cells were injected into tibias of SCID/NCr mice and the effects of vorinostat on tumor growth and osteolytic disease were assessed by radiography, μCT, histological and molecular analyses. Vorinostat-treated and control mice without tumors were also examined. Tumor growth in bone was reduced ~33% by vorinostat with inhibited osteolysis in the first few weeks of the experiment; however, osteolysis became more severe in both the vehicle and vorinostat-treated groups. Vorinostat increased the expression of tumor-derived factors promoting bone resorption, including PTHrP, IL-8 and osteopontin. After four weeks of vorinostat therapy the non-tumor bearing contra-lateral femurs as well as limbs from vorinostat-treated tumor-free SCID mice, showed significant bone loss (50% volume density of controls). Thus, our studies indicate that vorinostat effectively inhibits tumor growth in bone, but has a negative systemic effect reducing normal trabecular bone mass. Vorinostat treatment reduces tumor growth in bone and accompanying osteolytic disease as a result of decreased tumor burden in bone. However, vorinostat can promote osteopenia throughout the skeleton independent of tumor cell activity.
Vorinostat; SAHA; tumor-induced osteolysis; breast cancer; prostate cancer; metastatic cells in bone
Because ceramide accumulates in several forms of cardiovascular disease and ceramide-induced apoptosis may involve the volume-sensitive Cl− current, ICl,swell, we assessed whether ceramide activates ICl,swell.
Methods and results
ICl,swell was measured in rabbit ventricular myocytes by whole-cell patch clamp after isolating anion currents. Exogenous C2-ceramide (C2-Cer), a membrane-permeant short-chain ceramide, elicited an outwardly rectifying Cl− current in both physiological and symmetrical Cl− solutions that was fully inhibited by DCPIB, a specific ICl,swell blocker. In contrast, the metabolically inactive C2-Cer analogue C2-dihydroceramide (C2-H2Cer) failed to activate Cl− current. Bacterial sphingomyelinase (SMase), which generates endogenous long-chain ceramides as was confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry, also elicited an outwardly rectifying Cl− current that was inhibited by DCPIB and tamoxifen, another ICl,swell blocker. Bacterial SMase-induced current was partially reversed by osmotic shrinkage and fully suppressed by ebselen, a scavenger of reactive oxygen species. Outward rectification with physiological and symmetrical Cl− gradients, block by DCPIB and tamoxifen, and volume sensitivity are characteristics that identify ICl,swell. Insensitivity to C2-H2Cer and block by ebselen suggest involvement of ceramide signalling rather than direct lipid-channel interaction.
Exogenous and endogenous ceramide elicited ICl,swell in ventricular myocytes. This may contribute to persistent activation of ICl,swell and aspects of altered myocyte function in cardiovascular diseases associated with by ceramide accumulation.
Cl channel; Ceramide; Sphingomyelinase; ICl,swell; VRAC
DHA downregulates basal and cytokine-induced ASMase and NSMase activity in human retinal endothelial cells, and inhibition of sphingomyelinases in endothelial cells prevents cytokine-induced inflammatory response.
The authors have previously demonstrated that DHA inhibits cytokine-induced inflammation in human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs), the resident vasculature affected by diabetic retinopathy. However, the anti-inflammatory mechanism of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is still not well understood. Sphingolipids represent a major component of membrane microdomains, and ceramide-enriched microdomains appear to be a prerequisite for inflammatory cytokine signaling. Acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) and neutral sphingomyelinase (NSMase) are key regulatory enzymes of sphingolipid metabolism, promoting sphingomyelin hydrolysis to proinflammatory ceramide. The authors address the hypothesis that DHA inhibits cytokine-induced inflammatory signaling in HRECs by downregulating sphingomyelinases.
ASMase and NSMase activity was determined by sphingomyelinase assay in primary cultures of HRECs. The expression of ASMase, NSMase, ICAM-1, and VCAM-1 was assessed by quantitative PCR and Western blot analysis. Gene silencing of ASMase and NSMase was obtained by siRNA treatment.
Inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1β induced cellular adhesion molecule (CAM) expression and rapid increase in ASMase and NSMase activity in HRECs. DHA decreased basal and cytokine-induced ASMase and NSMase expression and activity and the upregulation of CAM expression. Anti-inflammatory effects of DHA on cytokine-induced CAM expression were mimicked by inhibition/gene silencing of ASMase and NSMase. The sphingomyelinase pathway rather than ceramide de novo synthesis pathway was important for inflammatory signaling in HRECs.
This study provides a novel potential mechanism for the anti-inflammatory effect of DHA in HRECs. DHA downregulates the basal and cytokine-induced ASMase and NSMase expression and activity level in HRECs, and inhibition of sphingomyelinases in endothelial cells prevents cytokine-induced inflammatory response.
The sphingomyelin-ceramide pathway is an evolutionarily conserved ubiquitous signal transduction system that regulates many cell functions including apoptosis. Sphingomyelin (SM) is hydrolyzed to ceramide by different sphingomyelinases. Ceramide serves as a second messenger in mediating cellular effects of cytokines and stress. In this study, we find that acid sphingomyelinase (SMase) activity was induced by UVA in normal JY lymphoblasts but was not detectable in MS1418 lymphoblasts from Niemann-Pick type D patients who have an inherited deficiency of acid SMase. We also provide evidence that UVA can induce apoptosis by activating acid SMase in normal JY cells. In contrast, UVA-induced apoptosis was inhibited in MS1418 cells. Exogenous SMase and its product, ceramide (10–40 μm), induced apoptosis in JY and MS1418 cells, but the substrate of SMase, SM (20–80 μm), induced apoptosis only in JY cells. These results suggest that UVA-induced apoptosis by SM is dependent on acid SMase activity. We also provide evidence that induction of apoptosis by UVA may occur through activation of JNKs via the acid SMase pathway.
Inflammation accompanied by severe oxidative stress plays a vital role in the orchestration and progression of neurodegeneration prevalent in chronic and acute CNS pathologies as well as in aging. The proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) elicits the formation of the bioactive ceramide by stimulating the hydrolysis of the membrane lipid sphingomyelin by sphingomyelinase activities. Ceramide stimulates the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptotic mechanisms in both neurons and non-neuronal cells establishing a link between sphingolipid metabolism and oxidative stress. We demonstrated in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells and primary cortical neurons, that TNFα is a potent stimulator of Mg2+-dependent neutral sphingomyelinase (Mg2+-nSMase) activity and sphingomyelin hydrolysis rather than de novo synthesis, was the predominant source of ceramide increases. Mg2+-nSMase activity preceded an accumulation of ROS by a neuronal NADPH oxidase (NOX). Notably, TNFα provoked a NOX-dependent oxidative damage to sphingosine kinase-1, which generates sphingosine-1-phosphate, a ceramide metabolite associated with neurite outgrowth. Indeed, ceramide and ROS inhibited neurite outgrowth of DRG neurons by disrupting growth cone motility. Blunting ceramide and ROS formation both rescued sphingosine kinase-1 activity and neurite outgrowth. Our studies suggest that TNFα-mediated activation of Mg2+-nSMase and NOX in neuronal cells not only produced the neurotoxic intermediates ceramide and ROS but also directly antagonized neuronal survival mechanisms thus accelerating neurodegeneration.
sphingomyelinase; ceramide; NADPH oxidase; sphingosine kinase; neuroinflammation