Ceramide: A novel cell signaling mechanism for vasodilation

Douglas G. Johns, Heather Osborn, R. Clinton Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Ceramide is a lipid second messenger generated by membrane hydrolysis of sphingomyelin by sphingomyelinase, but a role for this novel signaling pathway in vascular smooth muscle has not been elucidated. Based upon observations of cytokine-induced increases in sphingomyelinase activity, we hypothesized that ceramide plays a cell signaling role in vasodilation. Here, we demonstrate that ceramide is present at significant basal levels in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells and that these levels may be increased using exogenous sphingomyelinase. We also report that both exogenously added ceramide and sphingomyelinase cause dose-dependent relaxation in phenylephrine-contracted endothelium-denuded rat thoractic aortic rings. We conclude that the ceramide signaling pathway represents a novel signal transduction mechanism for vasodilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-97
Number of pages3
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 8 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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