Anti-inflammatory mechanism of exogenous C2 ceramide in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated microglia

Ji Sun Jung, Kyong Oh Shin, Yong Moon Lee, Jin A. Shin, Eun Mi Park, Jinju Jeong, Dong Hyun Kim, Ji Woong Choi, Hee Sun Kim

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51 Scopus citations


Ceramide is a major molecule among the sphingolipid metabolites which are produced in the brain and other organs and act as intracellular second messengers. Although a variety of physiological roles of ceramide have been reported in the periphery and central nervous systems, the role of ceramide in microglial activation has not been clearly demonstrated. In the present study, we examined the effects of exogenous cell permeable short chain ceramides on microglial activation in vitro and in vivo. We found that C2, C6, and C8 ceramide and C8 ceramide-1-phosphate inhibited iNOS and proinflammatory cytokines in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV2 microglial cells and rat primary microglia. In addition, the administration of C2 ceramide suppressed microglial activation in the brains of LPS-exposed mice. By HPLC and LC/MS/MS analyses, we found that C2 ceramide on its own, rather than its modified form (i.e. ceramide-1-phosphate or long chain ceramides), mainly work by penetrating into microglial cells. Further mechanistic studies by using the most effective C2 ceramide among the short chain ceramides tested, revealed that C2 ceramide exerts anti-inflammatory effects via inhibition of the ROS, MAPKs, PI3K/Akt, and Jak/STAT pathways with upregulation of PKA and hemeoxygenase-1 expressions. Interestingly, we found that C2 ceramide inhibits TLR4 signaling by interfering with LPS and TLR4 interactions. Therefore, our data collectively suggests the therapeutic potential of short chain ceramides such as C2 for neuroinflammatory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1016-1026
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government [Grants 2010-0004008 and 2012-0009853 ].


  • C2 ceramide
  • Microglia
  • Molecular mechanism
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Short chain ceramide
  • TLR4


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