Context: Increased plasma free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations may be in part responsible for the increased levels of ceramide in skeletal muscle of obese subjects.
Objective: We studied the effect of lowering and increasing plasma FFA levels on muscle ceramide and glucosylceramide concentrations in lean and obese subjects.
Design: Plasma FFAs were either increased or decreased for 6 h by infusing a lipid emulsion or using Acipimox, respectively. Muscle biopsies were performed before and after the intervention for measurements of ceramide and glucosylceramide.
Study subjects: Eight lean [body mass index 21.9 (range, 19.6-24.6) kg/m2] and six overweight/obese [body mass index 34.4 (27.8-42.5) kg/m2] subjects without type 2 diabetes mellitus participated in the study.
Main outcome measure: Differences in muscle ceramide and glucosylceramide upon manipulation of plasma FFAs were measured.
Results: There were no differences in muscle ceramide and glucosylceramide between lean and obese subjects, respectively. Increasing or decreasing plasma FFAs for 6 h had no effect on ceramide [high FFAs: 24 (19-25) vs. 24 (22-27) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.46; and 22 (20-28) vs. 24 (18-26) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.89 in lean and obese, respectively; low FFAs: 26 (24-35) vs. 23 (18-27) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.17 and 24 (15-44) vs. 24 (19-42) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.6 in lean and obese, respectively] and glucosylceramide [high FFAs: 2.0 (1.7-4.3) vs. 3.4 (2.1-4.6) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.17; and 3.0 (1.3-6.7) vs. 2.6 (1.2-3.9) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.89 in lean and obese, respectively; low FFAs: 2.2 (1.0-4.4) vs. 1.7 (1.4-3.0) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.92; and 6.6 (1.0-25.0) vs. 4.3 (1.3-7.6) pmol/mg muscle, P=0.7 in lean and obese, respectively] concentrations in skeletal muscle.
Conclusion: Short-term manipulation of plasma FFAs has no effect on ceramide and glucosylceramide concentrations in skeletal muscle from lean and obese subjects.