Inhibition of glycosphingolipid synthesis ameliorates atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness in apolipoprotein E-/- mice and rabbits fed a high-fat and -cholesterol diet

Chatterjee S, Bedja D, Mishra S, Amuzie C, Avolio A, Kass DA, Berkowitz D, Renehan M. Circulation. 2014 Jun 10;129(23):2403-13. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.007559. PMID: 24710030


Glycosphingolipids, integral components of the cell membrane, have been shown to serve as messengers, transducing growth factor-initiated phenotypes. Here, we have examined whether inhibition of glycosphingolipid synthesis could ameliorate atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness in transgenic mice and rabbits.

Apolipoprotein E(-/-) mice (12 weeks of age; n=6) were fed regular chow or a Western diet (1.25% cholesterol, 2% fat). Mice were fed 5 or 10 mg/kg of an inhibitor of glycosphingolipid synthesis, D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (D-PDMP), solubilized in vehicle (5% Tween-80 in PBS); the placebo group received vehicle only. At 20 and 36 weeks of age, serial echocardiography was performed to measure aortic intima-media thickening. Aortic pulse-wave velocity measured vascular stiffness. Feeding mice a Western diet markedly increased aortic pulse-wave velocity, intima-media thickening, oxidized low-density lipoprotein, Ca(2+) deposits, and glucosylceramide and lactosylceramide synthase activity. These were dose-dependently decreased by feeding D-PDMP. In liver, D-PDMP decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels by raising the expression of SREBP2, low-density lipoprotein receptor, HMGCo-A reductase, and the cholesterol efflux genes (eg, ABCG5, ABCG8). D-PDMP affected very-low-density lipoprotein catabolism by increasing the gene expression for lipoprotein lipase and very-low-density lipoprotein receptor. Rabbits fed a Western diet for 90 days had extensive atherosclerosis accompanied by a 17.5-fold increase in total cholesterol levels and a 3-fold increase in lactosylceramide levels. This was completely prevented by feeding D-PDMP.

Inhibition of glycosphingolipid synthesis ameliorates atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness in apolipoprotein E(-/-) mice and rabbits. Thus, inhibition of glycosphingolipid synthesis may be a novel approach to ameliorate atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness.