Ceramide is upregulated and associated with mortality in patients with chronic heart failure

Can J Cardiol. 2015 Mar;31(3):357-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2014.12.007. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Background: Ceramide is involved in apoptosis, inflammation, and stress responses, which are among the pathogenic components of chronic heart failure (CHF). However, no one has documented the levels of ceramide itself in CHF or determined its potential prognostic value.

Methods: In this study we recruited patients with heart failure consecutively from the hospital, of whom 423 stable patients were eventually selected to participate in this study after an observation period of at least 3 months after hospital discharge. All patents were followed up for all-cause death to December 31, 2013.

Results: Plasma ceramide levels were increased stepwise with New York Heart Association functional class (I, 5.32 ± 1.98; II, 5.81 ± 1.63; III, 6.14 ± 2.14; IV, 6.66 ± 2.61 ng/mL). During a mean follow-up of 4.4 years (interquartile range: 3.5-5.3 years), a total of 200 CHF patients died. The optimal threshold value of ceramide was 6.05 ng/mL. Ceramide levels as continuous and as dichotomous variables are risk factors for mortality in CHF (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-1.47; P < 0.001 and adjusted hazard ratio, 2.07, 95% confidence interval, 1.53-2.81; P < 0.001, respectively). When ceramide levels were combined with conventional CHF risk factors, the area under the curve increased from 0.68 (0.63-0.72) to 0.72 (0.68-0.76); P = 0.047. The continuous net reclassification index and integrated discrimination improvement index were 17.2% (5.0-29.9%; P = 0.027) and 0.04 (0.01-0.08; P = 0.020), respectively.

Conclusions: Plasma ceramide levels were increased and correlated with the severity of CHF, and were an independent risk factor of mortality in patients with CHF and reduced left ventricular systolic function. Ceramide levels might provide additional predictive value after conventional risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Ceramides / blood*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / blood*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers
  • Ceramides