Control of inflammatory responses by ceramide, sphingosine 1-phosphate and ceramide 1-phosphate

Prog Lipid Res. 2016 Jan;61:51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


Inflammation is a network of complex processes involving a variety of metabolic and signaling pathways aiming at healing and repairing damage tissue, or fighting infection. However, inflammation can be detrimental when it becomes out of control. Inflammatory mediators involve cytokines, bioactive lipids and lipid-derived metabolites. In particular, the simple sphingolipids ceramides, sphingosine 1-phosphate, and ceramide 1-phosphate have been widely implicated in inflammation. However, although ceramide 1-phosphate was first described as pro-inflammatory, recent studies show that it has anti-inflammatory properties when produced in specific cell types or tissues. The biological functions of ceramides and sphingosine 1-phosphate have been extensively studied. These sphingolipids have opposing effects with ceramides being potent inducers of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, and sphingosine 1-phosphate promoting cell growth and survival. However, the biological actions of ceramide 1-phosphate have only been partially described. Ceramide 1-phosphate is mitogenic and anti-apoptotic, and more recently, it has been demonstrated to be key regulator of cell migration. Both sphingosine 1-phosphate and ceramide 1-phosphate are also implicated in tumor growth and dissemination. The present review highlights new aspects on the control of inflammation and cell migration by simple sphingolipids, with special emphasis to the role played by ceramide 1-phosphate in controlling these actions.

Keywords: Cell migration; Ceramide 1-phosphate; Ceramides; Inflammation; Sphingolipids; Sphingosine 1-phosphate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Ceramides / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology*
  • Lysophospholipids / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / physiology


  • Ceramides
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lysophospholipids
  • ceramide 1-phosphate
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Sphingosine