Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2009 Jul;297(1):L125-33. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00031.2009. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

Neutral sphingomyelinase 2 is activated by cigarette smoke to augment ceramide-induced apoptosis in lung cell death.

Author information

Internal Medicine Respiratory Signal Transduction, University of California, School of Medicine, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Cigarette smoke (CS) induces a rapid, sustained upregulation of ceramide production in human bronchial epithelial cells, leading to increased apoptosis. Using loss-of-function and overexpression analyses, we show that neutral sphingomyelinase 2 (nSMase2) is required for CS-mediated ceramide generation and apoptosis. Glutathione (GSH), a crucial antioxidant in lung defense, blocks nSMase2 activity and thus inhibits apoptosis triggered by CS. We found that the exposure to CS, as with exposure to H(2)O(2), results in increased nSMase2 activation leading to ceramide generation and therefore increased apoptosis. Interestingly, exposure of cells to GSH abolishes nSMase2 activation caused by CS and leads to a decrease in CS-induced apoptosis. This suggests that the effects of CS oxidants on nSMase2 are counteracted by GSH. Our data support a model where CS induces nSMase2 activation thereby increasing membrane-sphingomyelin hydrolysis to ceramide. In turn, elevated ceramide enhances airway epithelial cell death, which causes bronchial and alveolar destruction and lung injury in pulmonary diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center