The role of gangliosides in fenretinide-induced apoptosis of neuroblastoma

Cancer Lett. 2005 Oct 18;228(1-2):105-10. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.01.044.


Fenretinide is thought to induce apoptosis via increases in ceramide levels but the mechanisms of ceramide generation and the link between ceramide and subsequent apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells is unclear. In SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, evidence suggests that acid sphingomyelinase activity is essential for the induction of ceramide and apoptosis in response to fenretinide. Downstream of ceramide, apoptosis in response to fenretinide is mediated by increased glucosylceramide synthase activity resulting in increased levels of gangliosides GD3 and GD2 via GD3 synthase. GD3 is a key signalling intermediate leading to apoptosis via the activation of 12-Lipoxygenase, and the parallel induction of GD2 suggests that fenretinide might enhance the response of neuroblastoma to therapy with anti-GD2 antibodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Ceramides / physiology
  • Fenretinide / pharmacology*
  • Gangliosides / immunology
  • Gangliosides / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Neuroblastoma / therapy
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Ceramides
  • Gangliosides
  • Fenretinide