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Biochem J. 1997 Nov 15;328 ( Pt 1):271-5.

The sphingomyelin-ceramide pathway participates in cytokine regulation of C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A, but not alpha-fibrinogen.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44109-1998, USA.


Maximal induction of the acute-phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) in the human hepatoma cell line Hep3B requires the combination of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-1. In contrast, IL-1 inhibits fibrinogen induction by IL-6. To explore the possible participation of the sphingomyelin-ceramide pathway in the transduction of cytokine effects, the role of this pathway in expression of CRP, SAA and alpha-fibrinogen was investigated. The cell-permeable ceramide analogues C2 and C6 each greatly potentiated induction of both CRP and SAA mRNA by IL-6+IL-1beta but did not affect the responses of alpha-fibrinogen to IL-6 or to IL-6+IL-1beta. The combination of IL-6+IL-1beta led to increased turnover of sphingomyelin in Hep3B cells. D609, an inhibitor of ceramide production by acidic but not neutral sphingomyelinases, substantially inhibited induction of CRP and SAA by IL-6+IL-1beta. The ability of C2 and C6 to potentiate the effects of cytokines suggests that the sphingomyelin-ceramide pathway participates in induction of CRP and SAA by IL-6+IL-1beta under these experimental conditions, most likely by transducing the effects of IL-1beta. C2 and C6 were unable to substitute for IL-1beta in enhancing IL-6 effects on CRP and SAA, consistent with other reports indicating that the sphingomyelin-ceramide pathway is only a single component of multiple necessary converging pathways for induction of many genes. In contrast, this pathway does not appear to participate in mediating the inhibitory effects of IL-1beta on fibrinogen induction by IL-6.

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