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Exp Hematol. 1999 Jul;27(7):1133-8.

Inhibition of human erythroid colony formation by ceramide.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH, USA.


In previous studies, we have demonstrated that the inhibitory effects of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin (IL)-1 on human erythroid colony formation are indirect and mediated by beta and gamma interferon (IFN), respectively, which act directly upon erythroid colony forming units (CFU-E). The in vitro inhibitory effect of gammaIFN but not betaIFN is reversed by exposure to high concentrations of recombinant human (rh) erythropoietin (EPO). Ceramide, a product of sphingomyelin hydrolysis, is a known mediator of apoptotic effects of TNF, IL-1, and gammaIFN. In this report, the effects of ceramide on CFU-E colony formation and its implication in the model described above are evaluated. Endogenous ceramide produced by exposure to bacterial sphingomyelinase (0.2-2.0 U/mL) and exogenous cell-permeable ceramide (C2-ceramide; 5 and 10 mM) significantly inhibited bone marrow CFU-E colony formation. This effect was reversed by the ceramide antagonist sphingosine-1-phosphate (S-1-P). Inhibition of CFU-E by rhgammaIFN, but not rhbetaIFN, was significantly reversed by S-1-P. rhEPO 10 U/mL reversed CFU-E inhibition by C2-ceramide 10 mM. Exposure of marrow cells to rhgammaIFN led to a 57% increase in ceramide content. The present study demonstrates that colony formation by human CFU-E is inhibited by endogenous and exogenous ceramide, and that inhibition by rhgammaIFN can be reversed by the ceramide antagonist S-1-P. Inhibition of CFU-E colony formation by ceramide and by are both reversed by high concentrations of rhEPO. These findings strongly suggest that ceramide mediates inhibition of human CFU-E colony formation by gammaIFN.

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