Absorption and lipoprotein transport of sphingomyelin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dietary sphingomyelin (SM) is hydrolyzed by intestinal alkaline sphingomyelinase and neutral ceramidase to sphingosine, which is absorbed and converted to palmitic acid and acylated into chylomicron triglycerides (TGs). SM digestion is slow and is affected by luminal factors such as bile salt, cholesterol, and other lipids. In the gut, SM and its metabolites may influence TG hydrolysis, cholesterol absorption, lipoprotein formation, and mucosal growth. SM accounts for similar to 20% of the phospholipids in human plasma lipoproteins, of which two-thirds are in LDL and VLDL. It is secreted in chylomicrons and VLDL and transferred into HDL via the ABCA1 transporter. Plasma SM increases after periods of large lipid loads, during suckling, and in type II hypercholesterolemia, cholesterol-fed animals, and apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. SM is thus an important amphiphilic component when plasma lipoprotein pools expand in response to large lipid loads or metabolic abnormalities. It inhibits lipoprotein lipase and LCAT as well as the interaction of lipoproteins with receptors and counteracts LDL oxidation. The turnover of plasma SM is greater than can be accounted for by the turnover of LDL and HDL particles. Some SM must be degraded via receptor-mediated catabolism of chylomicron and VLDL remnants and by scavenger receptor class B type I receptor-mediated transfer into cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-171
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Clinical Medicine

Free keywords

  • ceramidase
  • sphingomyelinase
  • low density lipoprotein
  • chylomicron
  • very low density lipoprotein
  • phospholipid transfer protein


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