Plasma 1-deoxysphingolipids are predictive biomarkers for type 2 diabetes mellitus

Alaa Othman, Christoph H. Saely, Axel Muendlein, Alexander Vonbank, Heinz Drexel, Arnold von Eckardstein, Thorsten Hornemann*

*Corresponding author for this work
13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) catalyzes the condensation of serine and palmitoyl coenzyme A, the first step in the de novo sphingolipid synthesis. Apart from these canonical substrates, SPT can also metabolize alanine and other acyl coenzyme As. This forms a spectrum of atypical sphingoid bases which are altered in the context of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). We investigated whether atypical sphingolipids can be used as prospective markers to predict the incidence of T2DM. Research design and methods: Using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, we analyzed the sphingoid base profile in a prospective cohort with 339 individuals. All individuals were followed up for a period of 8 years. Results: Confirming earlier results, we found 1-deoxysphingolipids (1-deoxySLs) to be significantly elevated in patients with MetS, impaired fasting glucose, and T2DM. Patients who developed T2DM during the follow-up period (n=32) showed significantly higher 1-deoxySL levels at baseline compared with those who did not develop T2DM until the end of the study (n=70). 1-Deoxysphingosine levels were independent predictors for T2DM even after adjusting for glycated hemoglobin (standardized adjusted OR=2.1, CI 95% (1.19 to 3.71); p=0.010), MetS (standardized adjusted OR=1.97, CI 95% (1.13 to 3.43); p=0.017), and other risk factors such as age, sex, BMI, and lipid-lowering drugs. Similar results were observed for the 1-deoxysphinganine levels. Conclusions: Our results support a novel role for 1-deoxySL as predictive biomarkers for the development of T2DM in risk patients and warrants further larger prospective trials in lower risk cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000073
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19.03.2015

Research Areas and Centers

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


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