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Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2007 Feb;83(1-2):99-111. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Pioglitazone induces de novo ceramide synthesis in the rat heart.

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Department of Physiology, Medical University of Bialystok, Mickiewicza 2c, 15-230 Bialystok, Poland.


Ceramide (CER) is an important mediator of lipotoxicity in the heart. It was found that Zucker diabetic fatty rats develop an age-dependent accumulation of myocardial CER leading to cardiomyocyte apoptosis. However, administration of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma agonist decreased the content of CER and prevented cardiomyocyte apoptosis [Zhou et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000;97:1784-9]. These data suggest that PPARgamma activators affect myocardial CER metabolism. Therefore, the aim of our study was to examine the effects of pioglitazone, a selective PPARgamma agonist, on the content of CER and its metabolites and on the activity of key enzymes of CER metabolism in the heart. The experiments were conducted on rats fed either a standard chow (STD) or a high-fat diet (HFD) for 21 days. Each group was divided into two subgroups: control and treated with pioglitazone for 14 days. Surprisingly, administration of PPARgamma agonist significantly increased myocardial CER content in both STD and HFD rats. In the latter group an elevation in the amount of sphingomyelin was also observed. In STD rats pioglitazone treatment increased the activity of neutral sphingomyelinase and acid ceramidase. However, in HFD group the compound did not affect the activity of the aforementioned enzymes. Interestingly, the activity of serine palmitoyltransferase in both STD and HFD rats increased two-fold after pioglitazone treatment. We conclude that pioglitazone induced accumulation of CER in rat myocardium as a result of augmented CER synthesis de novo. However, in the STD group increased activity of neutral sphingomyelinase could also contributed to this effect.

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