Acid sphingomyelinase inhibition suppresses lipopolysaccharide-mediated release of inflammatory cytokines from macrophages and protects against disease pathology in dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis in mice

Immunology. 2007 Sep;122(1):54-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2007.02612.x. Epub 2007 Apr 23.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and inflammatory cytokines cause activation of sphingomyelinases (SMases) and subsequent hydrolysis of sphingomyelin (SM) to produce a lipid messenger ceramide. The design of SMase inhibitors may offer new therapies for the treatment of LPS- and cytokine-related inflammatory bowel disease. We synthesized a series of difluoromethylene analogues of SM (SMAs). We report here the effects of the most potent SMase inhibitor, SMA-7, on the LPS-mediated release of tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1beta and interleukin-6 from THP-1 macrophages and the pathology of dextran sulphate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in mice. SMA-7 suppressed the LPS-induced cytokine release and nuclear factor-kappaB activation. LPS stimulation caused a four-fold increase in acid SMase activation, but little increase in neutral SMase activity. The presence of 10 microm SMA-7 caused acid SMase to remain at the control levels and reduced the formation of ceramide. HT-29 cells had significantly decreased cell viability when incubated with media from LPS-stimulated THP-1 macrophages. However, incubating the colon cells in media from both SMA-7 and LPS-treated macrophages caused little decrease in viability, suggesting that ceramide has a role in the LPS-stimulated signalling that releases cytotoxic factors against colon cells. Oral administration of SMA-7 to mice with 2% DSS in the drinking water, for 10 or 21 consecutive days, reduced significantly the cytokine levels in the colon and the severity of colonic injury. These findings suggest a central role for acid SMase/ceramide signalling in the pathology of DSS-induced colitis in mice, indicating a possible preventive or therapeutic role for SMase inhibitor in inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / chemically induced
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / enzymology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / metabolism
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase