Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein transfers and determines plasma concentrations of ceramide and sphingomyelin but not glycosylceramide

Jahangir Iqbal, Meghan T. Walsh, Samar M. Hammad, Marina Cuchel, Patrizia Tarugi, Robert A. Hegele, Nicholas O. Davidson, Daniel J. Rader, Richard L. Klein, M. Mahmood Hussaina

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63 Scopus citations


Sphingolipids, a large family of bioactive lipids, are implicated in stress responses, differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, and other physiological processes. Aberrant plasma levels of sphingolipids contribute to metabolic disease, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance. They are fairly evenly distributed in high density and apoB-containing lipoproteins (B-lps). Mechanisms involved in the transport of sphingolipids to the plasma are unknown. Here, we investigated the role of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP), required for B-lp assembly and secretion, in sphingolipid transport to the plasma. Abetalipoproteinemia patients with deleterious mutations in MTP and absence of B-lps had significantly lower plasma ceramide and sphingomyelin but normal hexosylceramide, lactosylceramide, and different sphingosines compared with unaffected controls. Furthermore, similar differential effects on plasma sphingolipids were seen in liver- and intestine-specific MTP knock-out (L,I-Mttp-/-) mice, suggesting that MTP specifically plays a role in the regulation of plasma ceramide and sphingomyelin. We hypothesized that MTP deficiency may affect either their synthesis or secretion. MTP deficiency had no effect on ceramide and sphingomyelin synthesis but reduced secretion from primary hepatocytes and hepatoma cells. Therefore, MTP is involved in ceramide and sphingomyelin secretion but not in their synthesis.Wealso found that MTP transferred these lipids between vesicles in vitro. Therefore, we propose that MTP might regulate plasma ceramide and sphingomyelin levels by transferring these lipids to B-lps in the liver and intestine and facilitating their secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25863-25875
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 23 2015


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