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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Jan;70(2):181-203. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1038-x. Epub 2012 Jun 24.

Ceramide function in the brain: when a slight tilt is enough.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Ceramide, the precursor of all complex sphingolipids, is a potent signaling molecule that mediates key events of cellular pathophysiology. In the nervous system, the sphingolipid metabolism has an important impact. Neurons are polarized cells and their normal functions, such as neuronal connectivity and synaptic transmission, rely on selective trafficking of molecules across plasma membrane. Sphingolipids are abundant on neural cellular membranes and represent potent regulators of brain homeostasis. Ceramide intracellular levels are fine-tuned and alteration of the sphingolipid-ceramide profile contributes to the development of age-related, neurological and neuroinflammatory diseases. The purpose of this review is to guide the reader towards a better understanding of the sphingolipid-ceramide pathway system. First, ceramide biology is presented including structure, physical properties and metabolism. Second, we describe the function of ceramide as a lipid second messenger in cell physiology. Finally, we highlight the relevance of sphingolipids and ceramide in the progression of different neurodegenerative diseases.

PMID:
22729185
PMCID:
PMC3535405
DOI:
10.1007/s00018-012-1038-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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