Ceramide and Apoptosis: Exploring the Enigmatic Connections between Sphingolipid Metabolism and Programmed Cell Death

ISSN: 1875-5992 (Online)
ISSN: 1871-5206 (Print)

Volume 16, 12 Issues, 2016

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Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry

Formerly: Current Medicinal Chemistry - Anti-Cancer Agents

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Michelle Prudhomme
Universite Blaise Pascal - C.N.R.S
Aubiere Cedex

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Ceramide and Apoptosis: Exploring the Enigmatic Connections between Sphingolipid Metabolism and Programmed Cell Death

Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, 12(4): 340-363.

Author(s): Thomas D. Mullen and Lina M Obeid.

Affiliation: 114 Doughty Street, Room 603 S.T.R.B, MSC 779, Charleston, SC 29425.


Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, is a complex process whereby eukaryotic cells react to physiologic or pathophysiologic stimuli by undergoing genetically programmed suicide. Programmed cell death involves many well-characterized signaling pathways including permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane and activation of caspases. Other pathways, such as pro-apoptotic lipid signaling, are less understood despite many years of study. The sphingolipid ceramide has received considerable attention as a key regulator of programmed cell death, yet the mechanisms of its up-regulation and ability to control cell fate remain ill-defined. In this review, we will examine the connections between sphingolipid metabolism and programmed cell death with a focus on the role of de novo sphingolipid synthesis and sphingosine salvage in producing pro-apoptotic ceramide. We will also highlight the evidence supporting an increasingly complex role for ceramide in regulating apoptosis and provide a framework in which to ask new questions about the functions of this enigmatic lipid.


Ceramide synthase, Ceramide, Apoptosis, De novo sphingolipid synthesis, Programmed cell death, Salvage pathway, Serine palmitoyl transferase, Sphingomyelinase, (karyorrhexis, autophagosomes .

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Article Details

Volume: 12
Issue Number: 4
First Page: 340
Last Page: 363
Page Count: 24
DOI: 10.2174/187152012800228661
Price: $58

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