Increased de novo ceramide synthesis and accumulation in failing myocardium

JCI Insight. 2017 May 4;2(9):e82922. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.82922.


Abnormal lipid metabolism may contribute to myocardial injury and remodeling. To determine whether accumulation of very long-chain ceramides occurs in human failing myocardium, we analyzed myocardial tissue and serum from patients with severe heart failure (HF) undergoing placement of left ventricular assist devices and controls. Lipidomic analysis revealed increased total and very long-chain ceramides in myocardium and serum of patients with advanced HF. After unloading, these changes showed partial reversibility. Following myocardial infarction (MI), serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT), the rate-limiting enzyme of the de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis, and ceramides were found increased. Blockade of SPT by the specific inhibitor myriocin reduced ceramide accumulation in ischemic cardiomyopathy and decreased C16, C24:1, and C24 ceramides. SPT inhibition also reduced ventricular remodeling, fibrosis, and macrophage content following MI. Further, genetic deletion of the SPTLC2 gene preserved cardiac function following MI. Finally, in vitro studies revealed that changes in ceramide synthesis are linked to hypoxia and inflammation. In conclusion, cardiac ceramides accumulate in the failing myocardium, and increased levels are detectable in circulation. Inhibition of de novo ceramide synthesis reduces cardiac remodeling. Thus, increased de novo ceramide synthesis contributes to progressive pathologic cardiac remodeling and dysfunction.

Keywords: Cardiology; Metabolism.