Sphingolipids, historically described as potential reservoirs for bioactive lipids, presently define a new family of cellular mediators, joining the well-established glycerolipid-derived mediators of signal transduction such as diacylglycerol, phosphatidylinositides, and eicosanoids. Sphingolipid metabolism is clearly involved in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, and programmed cell death. Indeed, a majority of the greater than four thousand studies conducted on sphingolipids during the past five years were investigations of the role of sphingolipids as cellular bioregulators. Studies spanning more than a decade have shown multiple interactions and intersections of the sphingolipidmediated pathways and the eicosanoid pathway. This review will discuss the emerging mechanisms by which sphingolipids induce inflammatory responses via the eicosanoid pathway in addition to linking previous literature on sphingolipids and inflammation with newer findings of distinct roles for sphingosine-1-phosphate in regulating cyclooygenase-2 and ceramide-1-phosphate in the regulation of cytosolic phospholipase A2α. Finally, the relationship between bioactive sphingolipids and inflammation is discussed.
Keywords: inflammation, sphingolipids, sphingosine, ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate, ceramide-1-, phosphate, cyclooxygenase 2, cytosolic phospholipase, arachidonic acid, prostaglandins
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