Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is an immune modulatory lipid mediator and has been implicated in numerous pathophysiological processes. S1P is produced by sphingosine kinase 1 (Sphk1) and Sphk2. Dendritic cells (DCs) are central for the direction of immune responses and crucially involved in autoimmunity and cancerogenesis. In this study we examined the function and survival of bone marrow-derived DCs under long-term inflammatory stimulation. We observed that differentiated cells undergo activation-induced cell death (AICD) upon LPS stimulation with an increased metabolic activity shortly after stimulation, followed by a rapid activation of caspase 3 and subsequent augmented apoptosis. Importantly, we highlight a profound role of Sphk1 in secretion of inflammatory cytokines and survival of dendritic cells that might be mediated by a change in sphingolipid levels as well as by a change in STAT3 expression. Cell growth during differentiation of Sphk1-deficient cells treated with the functional S1P receptor antagonist FTYP was reduced. Importantly, in dendritic cells we did not observe a compensatory regulation of Sphk2 mRNA in Sphk1-deficient cells. Instead, we discovered a massive increase in Sphk1 mRNA concentration upon long-term stimulation with LPS in wild type cells that might function as an attempt to rescue from inflammation-caused cell death. Taken together, in this investigation we describe details of a crucial involvement of sphingolipids and Sphk1 in AICD during long-term immunogenic activity of DCs that might play an important role in autoimmunity and might explain the differences in immune response observed in in vivo studies of Sphk1 modulation.
Keywords: FTY720P; Fingolimod; S1P; activation-induced-cell-death; dendritic cells; sphingosine kinase 1; sphingosine kinase 2; sphingosine-1-phosphate.