Ceramide profiles in the brain of rats with diabetes induced by streptozotocin

FEBS J. 2012 Jun;279(11):1943-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08575.x. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


Diabetes is associated with disturbances of brain activity and cognitive impairment. We hypothesize that ceramides may constitute an important contribution to diabetes-linked neuro-dysfunction. In our study we used rats injected with streptozotocin (STZ) as a model of severe hyperglycemia. Using the gas-liquid chromatography technique we found a significant increase of ceramide content in brains and a decrease in plasma of diabetic rats. The inhibitor of serine palmitoyltransferase, myriocin, reduced ceramide generation in hyperglycemic brains, although injected alone it exerted a paradoxical effect of ceramide upregulation. Myriocin had no impact on ceramide concentration in the plasma of either control or diabetic rats. The level of ceramide saturated fatty acids was elevated whereas the level of ceramide poly-unsaturated fatty acids was downregulated in brains of all experimental groups. The concentration of ceramide mono-unsaturated fatty acids remained unchanged. The pattern of individual ceramide species was altered depending on treatment. We noted an STZ-evoked increase of brain ceramide C16:0, C18:0 and C20:0 and a strong decline in ceramide C18:2 fatty acid levels. Some changes of brain ceramide pattern were modified by myriocin. We found a decreased amount of total ceramide-ω-6 fatty acids in STZ-treated rat brains and no changes in ceramide-ω-3 concentration. We conclude that ceramides may be important mediators of diabetes-accompanied brain dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Ceramides / chemistry*
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Hyperglycemia / complications
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism*
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism
  • Streptozocin


  • Ceramides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Streptozocin
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase
  • thermozymocidin