Sphingomyelin Metabolism Modifies Luminal A Breast Cancer Cell Line under a High Dose of Vitamin C

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Dec 8;24(24):17263. doi: 10.3390/ijms242417263.


The role of sphingomyelin metabolism and vitamin C in cancer has been widely described with conflicting results ranging from a total absence of effect to possible preventive and/or protective effects. The aim of this study was to establish the possible involvement of sphingomyelin metabolism in the changes induced by vitamin C in breast cancer cells. The MCF7 cell line reproducing luminal A breast cancer and the MDA-MB-231 cell line reproducing triple-negative breast cancer were used. Cell phenotype was tested by estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 expression, and proliferation index percentage. Sphingomyelin was localized by an EGFP-NT-Lys fluorescent probe. Sphingomyelin metabolism was analyzed by RT-PCR, Western blotting and UFLC-MS/MS. The results showed that a high dose of vitamin C produced reduced cell viability, modulated cell cycle related genes, and changed the cell phenotype with estrogen receptor downregulation in MCF7 cell. In these cells, the catabolism of sphingomyelin was promoted with a large increase in ceramide content. No changes in viability and molecular expression were observed in MB231 cells. In conclusion, a high dose of vitamin C induces changes in the luminal A cell line involving sphingomyelin metabolism.

Keywords: HER-2; Ki-67; MB-231 cells; MCF7 cells; breast cancer; ceramide; estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; sphingomyelin; vitamin C.

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms*
  • Vitamins / pharmacology


  • Sphingomyelins
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Vitamins

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.