Glycerophospholipid and sphingolipid species and mortality: the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):e85724. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085724. eCollection 2014.


Vascular and metabolic diseases cause half of total mortality in Europe. New prognostic markers would provide a valuable tool to improve outcome. First evidence supports the usefulness of plasma lipid species as easily accessible markers for certain diseases. Here we analyzed association of plasma lipid species with mortality in the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study. Plasma lipid species were quantified by electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry and Cox proportional hazards regression was applied to assess their association with total and cardiovascular mortality. Overall no differences were detected between total and cardiovascular mortality. Highly polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine species together with lysophosphatidylcholine species and long chain saturated sphingomyelin and ceramide species seem to be associated with a protective effect. The predominantly circulating phosphatidylcholine-based as well as phosphatidylethanolamine-based ether species and phosphatidylethanolamine species were positively associated with total and cardiovascular mortality. Saturated and monounsaturated phosphatidylcholine species, especially phosphatidylcholine 32∶0 (most probably dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine) and palmitate containing sphingomyelin and ceramide species showed together with 24∶1 containing sphingomyelin and ceramide species strongest positive association with mortality. A quotient of the sums of the six most protective species and the six species with the strongest positive mortality association indicated an almost 3-fold increased risk of mortality, which was higher than the hazard ratio for known risk factors in our cohort. Plasma lipid species levels and especially ratios of certain species may be valuable prognostic marker for cardiovascular and total mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Glycerophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Glycerophospholipids
  • Sphingolipids

Grant support

This work was supported by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 202272, IP-Project LipidomicNet and BMBF (“SysMBo”, sponsorship number 0315494C). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.