Fingolimod Affects Transcription of Genes Encoding Enzymes of Ceramide Metabolism in Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Molecular neurobiology


The imbalance in sphingolipid signaling may be critically linked to the upstream events in the neurodegenerative cascade of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We analyzed the influence of mutant (V717I) amyloid β precursor protein (AβPP) transgene on sphingolipid metabolism enzymes in mouse hippocampus. At 3 months of age AβPP/Aβ presence upregulated enzymes of ceramide turnover on the salvage pathway: ceramide synthases (CERS2, CERS4, CERS6) and also ceramidase ACER3. At 6 months, only CERS6 was elevated, and no ceramide synthase was increased at 12 months. However, sphingomyelin synthases, which utilize ceramide on the sphingomyelinase pathway, were reduced (SGMS1 at 12 and SGMS2 at 6 months). mRNAs for sphingomyelin synthases SGMS1 and SGMS2 were also significantly downregulated in human AD hippocampus and neocortex when compared with age-matched controls. Our findings suggest early-phase deregulation of sphingolipid homeostasis in favor of ceramide signaling. Fingolimod (FTY720), a modulator of sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors countered the AβPP-dependent upregulation of hippocampal ceramide synthase CERS2 at 3 months. Moreover, at 12 months, FTY720 increased enzymes of ceramide-sphingosine turnover: CERS4, ASAH1, and ACER3. We also observed influence of fingolimod on the expression of the sphingomyelinase pathway enzymes. FTY720 counteracted the AβPP-linked reduction of sphingomyelin synthases SGMS1/2 (at 12 and 6 months, respectively) and led to elevation of sphingomyelinase SMPD2 (at 6 and 12 months). Therefore, our results demonstrate potentially beneficial, age-specific effects of fingolimod on transcription of sphingolipid metabolism enzymes in an animal model of AD.

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