Phytoceramide in vertebrate tissues: One step chromatography separation for molecular characterization of ceramide species

Somsankar Dasgupta, Jina Kong, Erhard Bieberich

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Ceramide is a precursor for complex sphingolipids in vertebrates, while plants contain phytoceramide. By using a novel chromatography purification method we show that phytoceramide comprises a significant proportion of animal sphingolipids. Total ceramide including phytoceramide from mouse tissue (brain, heart, liver) lipid extracts and cell culture (mouse primary astrocytes, human oligodendroglioma cells) was eluted as a single homogenous fraction, and then analyzed by thin layer chromatography, and further characterized by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). We detected a unique band that migrated between non-hydroxy fatty acyl ceramide and hydroxy fatty acyl ceramide, and identified it as phytoceramide. Using RT-PCR, we confirmed that mouse tissues expressed desaturase 2, an enzyme that has been reported to generate phytoceramide from dihydroceramide. Previously, only trace amounts of phytoceramide were reported in vertebrate intestine, kidney, and skin. While its function is still elusive, this is the first report of phytoceramide characterization in glial cells and vertebrate brain, heart, and liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere80841
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 29 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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