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Cytokine. 2014 Aug;68(2):137-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2014.03.011. Epub 2014 Apr 20.

Ceramide inhibits connective tissue growth factor expression by human retinal pigment epithelial cells.

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  • 1Arnold and Mabel Beckman Macular Research Center, Doheny Eye Institute, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
  • 2Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, MD, United States.
  • 3Departments of Ophthalmology and Pathology, Keck School of Medicine USC, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
  • 4Departments of Ophthalmology and Pathology, Keck School of Medicine USC, Los Angeles, CA, United States. Electronic address:


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is known to be involved in retinal fibrotic disorders. We used human retinal pigment epithelial cells (HRPE), which play critical roles in retinal fibrosis, to examine the expression of CTGF and its regulation by ceramide and TGF-β. Real-time PCR analysis showed downregulation of CTGF mRNA by C2 ceramide and upregulation by TGF-β. C2 ceramide also inhibited constitutive and TGF-β-enhanced CTGF secretion by HRPE cells. Predominant secretion (>80% of total) of CTGF from the apical side was observed in highly polarized HRPE cells. Fumonosin, an inhibitor of ceramide synthesis, stimulated CTGF secretion while 4HPR, an activator of ceramide synthesis, downregulated CTGF secretion. Based on these results demonstrating ceramide regulation of CTGF secretion by HRPE, we suggest that ceramide may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of retinal fibrotic diseases by inhibiting CTGF production.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


CTGF; Ceramide; Retinal fibrosis; Retinal pigment epithelium; TGF-β

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