Anticancer Effects of New Ceramides Isolated from the Red Sea Red Algae Hypnea  musciformis in a Model of Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma: LC-HRMS Analysis Profile and Molecular Modeling

Mar Drugs. 2022 Jan 10;20(1):63. doi: 10.3390/md20010063.


Different classes of phytochemicals were previously isolated from the Red Sea algae Hypnea musciformis as sterols, ketosteroids, fatty acids, and terpenoids. Herein, we report the isolation of three fatty acids-docosanoic acid 4, hexadecenoic acid 5, and alpha hydroxy octadecanoic acid 6-as well as three ceramides-A (1), B (2), and C (3)-with 9-methyl-sphinga-4,8-dienes and phytosphingosine bases. Additionally, different phytochemicals were determined using the liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-HRMS) technique. Ceramides A (1) and B (2) exhibited promising in vitro cytotoxic activity against the human breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) cell line when compared with doxorubicin as a positive control. Further in vivo study and biochemical estimation in a mouse model of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC) revealed that both ceramides A (1) and B (2) at doses of 1 and 2 mg/kg, respectively, significantly decreased the tumor size in mice inoculated with EAC cells. The higher dose (2 mg/kg) of ceramide B (2) particularly expressed the most pronounced decrease in serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor -B (VEGF-B) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) markers, as well as the expression levels of the growth factor midkine in tumor tissue relative to the EAC control group. The highest expression of apoptotic factors, p53, Bax, and caspase 3 was observed in the same group that received 2 mg/kg of ceramide B (2). Molecular docking simulations suggested that ceramides A (1) and B (2) could bind in the deep grove between the H2 helix and the Ser240-P250 loop of p53, preventing its interaction with MDM2 and leading to its accumulation. In conclusion, this study reports the cytotoxic, apoptotic, and antiangiogenic effects of ceramides isolated from the Red Sea algae Hypnea musciformis in an experimental model of EAC.

Keywords: Ehrlich ascites carcinoma; Hypnea musciformis; LC-ESI-HRMS; MCF-7; TNF-α; VEGF-B; apoptosis; ceramides; midkine; p53.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Ascites / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ehrlich Tumor / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Ehrlich Tumor / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Ceramides / chemistry
  • Ceramides / pharmacology*
  • Ceramides / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Indian Ocean
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Mice
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Rhodophyta*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Ceramides