Journal Article

Sphingolipids suppress preneoplastic rat hepatocytes <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i>

Ilona Silins, Mariann Nordstrand, Johan Högberg and Ulla Stenius

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 24, issue 6, pages 1077-1083
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Sphingolipids suppress preneoplastic rat hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo

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Sphingolipids can modulate cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. In the present investigation, selective death of hepatocytes localized in enzyme-altered foci (EAF hepatocytes) was shown to be induced by sphingolipids. Sphingosine (20 µM) caused rapid cell death predominantly of EAF hepatocytes in vitro. During 4 h of such exposure, cytochrome c was released from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm and the number of cells demonstrating cleaved caspase-9 activity increased. The selective sensitivity of EAF cells to sphingolipid-induced death was attenuated by tumor necrosis factor-α. In previous studies we have demonstrated that EAF hepatocytes are resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis, a resistance shown here to be reversed by low concentrations of sphingosine. Immunohistological staining revealed higher levels of glucosylated ceramide in EAF than in the surrounding tissue. Furthermore, an inhibitor of glucosylation enhanced the toxicity of ceramide towards EAF cells. TLC analysis suggested low levels of sphingosine in preneoplastic lesions. In in vivo experiments EAF-bearing rats were fed a diet supplemented with 0.1% sphingomyelin for 2 weeks. Sphingolipid feeding reduced the number of EAF and EAF area in the liver by 40–50% as compared with rats fed a control diet. These studies indicate that the turnover of sphingolipids in preneoplastic EAF hepatocytes is altered. This alteration may explain not only the increased sensitivity of EAF cells towards sphingolipid-induced cell death, but also the resistance of these hepatocytes to cell death involving sphingolipids as second messengers. Furthermore, sphingomyelin in the diet may prevent EAF development. It is suggested that the altered turnover of sphingolipids might be a target for chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Keywords: DEN, diethylnitrosamine; DMS, N,N-dimethylsphingosine; EAF, enzyme-altered foci; GCDC, glucochenodeoxycholic acid; GST-P, glutathione S-transferase pi; PDMP, D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-1-propanol; TNFα, tumor necrosis factor-α.

Journal Article.  5507 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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