Sphingolipids as modulators of cancer cell death: potential therapeutic targets

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Dec;1758(12):2104-20. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2006.05.024. Epub 2006 Jun 6.


Through modifications in the fine membrane structure, cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions, and/or modulation of intracellular signaling pathways, sphingolipids can affect the tumorigenic potential of numerous cell types. Whereas ceramide and its metabolites have been described as regulators of cell growth and apoptosis, these lipids as well as other sphingolipid molecules can modulate the ability of malignant cells to grow and resist anticancer treatments, and their susceptibility to non-apoptotic cell deaths. This review summarizes our current knowledge on the properties of sphingolipids in the regulation of cancer cell death and tumor development. It also provides an update on the potential perspectives of manipulating sphingolipid metabolism and using sphingolipid analogues in anticancer therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Sphingolipids / physiology*


  • Sphingolipids