Reduction of plasma glycosphingolipid levels has no impact on atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-null mice
Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) have been implicated as potential atherogenic lipids. Studies in apolipoprotein E-null (apoE-/-) mice indicate that exacerbated tissue GSL accumulation resulting from a-galactosidase deficiency promotes atherosclerosis, whereas the serine palmitoyl transferase inhibitor myriocin (which reduces plasma and tissue levels of several sphingolipids, including sphingomyelin, ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and GSLs) inhibits atherosclerosis. It is not clear whether GSL synthesis inhibition per se has an impact on atherosclerosis. To address this issue, apoE-/- mice maintained on a high-fat diet were treated with a potent glucosylceramide synthesis inhibitor, D-threo-1-ethylendioxyphenyl-2-palmitoylamino-3-pyrrolidino-propanol (EtDO-P4), 10 mg/kg/day for 94 days, and lesion development was compared in mice that were treated with vehicle only. EtDO-P4 reduced plasma GSL concentration by approximately 50% but did not affect cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Assessment of atherosclerotic lesions at four different sites indicated that EtDO-P4 had no significant impact on lesion area. Thus, despite the previously observed positive correlations between plasma and aortic GSL concentrations and the development of atherosclerosis, and the in vitro evidence implying that GSLs may be pro-atherogenic, our current data indicate that inhibition of GSL synthesis does not inhibit atherosclerosis in vivo. Copyright © 2008 by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.