Cytotoxic 1-deoxysphingolipids are metabolized by a cytochrome P450-dependent pathway

Irina Alecu, Alaa Othman, Anke Penno, Essa M. Saied, Christoph Arenz, Arnold Von Eckardstein, And Thorsten Hornemann*

*Corresponding author for this work
8 Citations (Scopus)


The 1-deoxysphingolipids (1-deoxySLs) are atypical sphingolipids (SLs) that are formed when serine palmitoyltransferase condenses palmitoyl-CoA with alanine instead of serine during SL synthesis. The 1-deoxySLs are toxic to neurons and pancreatic β-cells. Pathologically elevated 1-deoxySLs cause the inherited neuropathy, hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy type 1 (HSAN1), and are also found in T2D. Diabetic sensory polyneuropathy (DSN) and HSAN1 are clinically very similar, suggesting that 1-deoxySLs may be implicated in both pathologies. The 1-deoxySLs are considered to be dead-end metabolites, as they lack the C1- hydroxyl group, which is essential for the canonical degradation of SLs. Here, we report a previously unknown metabolic pathway, which is capable of degrading 1-deoxySLs. Using a variety of metabolic labeling approaches and high-resolution high-accuracy MS, we identified eight 1-deoxySL downstream metabolites, which appear to be formed by cytochrome P450 (CYP)4F enzymes. Comprehensive inhibition and induction of CYP4F enzymes blocked and stimulated, respectively, the formation of the downstream metabolites. Consequently, CYP4F enzymes might be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of HSAN1 and DSN, as well as for the prevention of T2D.-Alecu, I., A. Othman, A. Penno, E. M. Saied, C. Arenz, A. von Eckardstein, and T. Hornemann. Cytotoxic 1-deoxysphingolipids are metabolized by a cytochrome P450- dependent pathway. J. Lipid Res. 2017. 58: 60-71.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2017

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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