Sphingosine 1-phosphate in inflammation


Sphingolipids are formed via the metabolism of sphingomyelin, aconstituent of the plasma membrane, or by denovosynthesis. Enzymatic pathways result in the formation of several different lipid mediators, which are known to have important roles in many cellular processes, including proliferation, apoptosis and migration. Several studies now suggest that these sphingolipid mediators, including ceramide, ceramide 1-phosphate and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), are likely to have an integral role in in?ammation. This can involve, for example, activation of pro-in?ammatory transcription factors in different cell types and induction of cyclooxygenase-2, leading to production of pro-in?ammatory prostaglandins. The mode of action of each sphingolipid is different. Increased ceramide production leads to the formation of ceramide-rich areas of the membrane, which may assemble signalling complexes, whereas S1P acts via high-af?nity G-protein-coupled S1P receptors on the plasma membrane. Recent studies have demonstrated that in vitro effects of sphingolipids on in?ammation can translate into in vivo models. This review will highlight the areas of research where sphingolipids are involved in in?ammation and the mechanisms of action of each mediator. In addition, the therapeutic potential of drugs that alter sphingolipid actions will be examined with reference to disease states, such as asthma and in?ammatory bowel disease, which involve important in?ammatory components. A signi?cant body of research now indicates that sphingolipids are intimately involved in the in?ammatory process and recent studies have demonstrated that these lipids, together with associated enzymes and receptors, can provide effective drug targets for the treatment of pathological in?ammation.