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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jul 30;274(31):21533-8.

Role of sphingosine 1-phosphate in the mitogenesis induced by oxidized low density lipoprotein in smooth muscle cells via activation of sphingomyelinase, ceramidase, and sphingosine kinase.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie, INSERM U. 466, Université Paul Sabatier, CHU Rangueil, 31403 Toulouse, France.


Oxidized LDL (oxLDL) have been implicated in diverse biological events leading to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. We previously demonstrated that the proliferation of cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) induced by oxLDL is preceded by an increase in neutral sphingomyelinase activity, sphingomyelin turnover to ceramide, and stimulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (Augé, N., Escargueil-Blanc, I., Lajoie-Mazenc, I., Suc, I., Andrieu-Abadie, N., Pieraggi, M. T., Chatelut, M., Thiers, J. C., Jaffrézou, J. P., Laurent, G., Levade, T., Nègre-Salvayre, A., and Salvayre, R. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 12893-12900). Since ceramide can be converted to other bioactive metabolites, such as the well established mitogen sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), we investigated whether additional ceramide metabolites are involved in the oxLDL-induced SMC proliferation. We report here that incubation of SMC with oxLDL increased the activities of both acidic and alkaline ceramidases as well as sphingosine kinase, and elevated cellular sphingosine and S1P. Furthermore, the mitogenic effect of oxLDL was inhibited by D-erythro-2-(N-myristoylamino)-1-phenyl-1-propanol and N,N-dimethylsphingosine which are inhibitors of ceramidase and sphingosine kinase, respectively. These findings suggest that S1P is a key mediator of the mitogenic effect of oxLDL. In agreement with this conclusion, exogenous addition of sphingosine stimulated the proliferation of cultured SMC, and this effect was abrogated by dimethylsphingosine but not by fumonisin B1, an inhibitor of the acylation of sphingosine to ceramide. Exogenous S1P also promoted SMC proliferation. Altogether, these results strongly suggest that the mitogenic effect of oxLDL in SMC involves the combined activation of sphingomyelinase(s), ceramidase(s), and sphingosine kinase, resulting in the turnover of sphingomyelin to a number of sphingolipid metabolites, of which at least S1P is critical for mitogenesis.

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