Associations of systemic sphingolipids with measures of hepatic function in liver cirrhosis are related to cholesterol

Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2017 Jul:131:25-32. doi: 10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2017.06.004. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Lipoprotein particles are composed of various lipid classes including cholesterol and sphingolipids, and are low in serum of patients with liver cirrhosis. Hepatic decompensation is associated with a further decline of lipoproteins. Aim of the present work was to evaluate whether ceramide and sphingomyelin species are similarly changed in patients with liver cirrhosis and whether these variations are related to systemic cholesterol levels. In a cohort of 45 patients suffering from liver cirrhosis, cholesteryl ester species and subsequently total cholesterol were identified to be negatively associated with model of end stage liver disease (MELD) score. Indeed, the negative correlations of ceramide (Cer) and sphingomyelin (SM) species with MELD score, bilirubin and anti-thrombin 3 were non-significant after adjustment for cholesterol. Cer/SM ratios of species with identical acyl chains were not related to Child-Pugh or MELD score indicating that both lipids are comparably changed. Further, cholesterol levels and concentrations of all sphingolipids measured were similar in systemic, hepatic vein and portal vein blood. Cholesterol and distinct sphingolipids were similar before and 3 months after insertion of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt while hexosylceramide 24:1 was significantly induced. It is concluded that analysis of distinct systemic sphingolipid species is not superior to measurement of cholesterol as non-invasive marker of hepatic injury in patients with liver cirrhosis.

Keywords: Ascites; Lipoprotein; MELD score; Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ascites / complications
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / physiopathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Portal Vein / metabolism
  • Portasystemic Shunt, Transjugular Intrahepatic
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Ceramides
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Sphingolipids
  • Cholesterol