Inhibiting de novo ceramide synthesis restores mitochondrial and protein homeostasis in muscle aging

Sci Transl Med. 2023 May 17;15(696):eade6509. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.ade6509. Epub 2023 May 17.


Disruption of mitochondrial function and protein homeostasis plays a central role in aging. However, how these processes interact and what governs their failure in aging remain poorly understood. Here, we showed that ceramide biosynthesis controls the decline in mitochondrial and protein homeostasis during muscle aging. Analysis of transcriptome datasets derived from muscle biopsies obtained from both aged individuals and patients with a diverse range of muscle disorders revealed that changes in ceramide biosynthesis, as well as disturbances in mitochondrial and protein homeostasis pathways, are prevalent features in these conditions. By performing targeted lipidomics analyses, we found that ceramides accumulated in skeletal muscle with increasing age across Caenorhabditis elegans, mice, and humans. Inhibition of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), the rate-limiting enzyme of the ceramide de novo synthesis, by gene silencing or by treatment with myriocin restored proteostasis and mitochondrial function in human myoblasts, in C. elegans, and in the skeletal muscles of mice during aging. Restoration of these age-related processes improved health and life span in the nematode and muscle health and fitness in mice. Collectively, our data implicate pharmacological and genetic suppression of ceramide biosynthesis as potential therapeutic approaches to delay muscle aging and to manage related proteinopathies via mitochondrial and proteostasis remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Proteostasis*
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / genetics
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism


  • Ceramides
  • Serine C-Palmitoyltransferase