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Steroids. 2010 Jun;75(6):390-9. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2010.01.020. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

The interplay between bioactive sphingolipids and steroid hormones.

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  • 1School of Biology and Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, 310 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332, United States.


Steroid hormones regulate various physiological processes including development, reproduction, and metabolism. These regulatory molecules are synthesized from cholesterol in endocrine organs - such as the adrenal glands and gonads - via a multi-step enzymatic process that is catalyzed by the cytochrome P450 superfamily of monooxygenases and hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases. Steroidogenesis is induced by trophic peptide hormones primarily via the activation of a cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent pathway. However, other signaling molecules, including cytokines and growth factors, control the steroid hormone biosynthetic pathway. More recently, sphingolipids, including ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and sphingosine, have been found to modulate steroid hormone secretion at multiple levels. In this review, we provide a brief overview of the mechanisms by which sphingolipids regulate steroidogenesis. In addition, we discuss how steroid hormones control sphingolipid metabolism. Finally, we outline evidence supporting the emerging role of bioactive sphingolipids in various nuclear processes and discuss a role for nuclear sphingolipid metabolism in the control of gene transcription.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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