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Lipids. 2006 Sep;41(9):859-63.

Association of ceramides in human plasma with risk factors of atherosclerosis.

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Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Nara Women's University, Nara 630-8506, Japan.


Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial disorder. Recent studies indicate that the plasma level of sphingomyelin, which yields ceramide, correlates with the risk of coronary heart disease. Therefore, ceramide, a well-known lipid causing apoptosis in various cell types, may contribute to atherogenesis. We examined the relationship between ceramide concentration and risk factors of atherosclerosis in normal human plasma using electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Major ceramides in human plasma were C24:0 and C24:1. The ceramide concentration showed a significant positive correlation with total cholesterol (TC) and triglycerides (TG). In addition, plasma ceramide level increased drastically at a high level of LDL cholesterol (more than 170 mg/dL). Our previous studies demonstrated that the sum of fragmented and conjugated apolipoprotein B-100 proteins (B-ox), which were products of a radical reaction of LDL as well as plasma, was a reliable index of atherosclerosis. B-ox showed a significant positive correlation with the plasma ceramide level. Based on these results, we propose that the ceramide level in human plasma is a risk factor at the early stages of atherosclerosis.

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