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Elevated plasma ceramide levels in post-menopausal women: a cross-sectional study


Circulating ceramide levels are abnormally elevated in age-dependent pathologies such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity and Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, the potential impact of age on plasma ceramide levels has not yet been systematically examined. In the present study, we quantified a focused panel of plasma ceramides and dihydroceramides in a cohort of 164 subjects (84 women) 19 to 80 years of age. After adjusting for potential confounders, multivariable linear regression analysis revealed a positive association between age and ceramide (d18:1/24:0) (β (SE) = 5.67 (2.38); p = .0198) and ceramide (d18:1/24:1) (β (SE) = 2.88 (.61); p < .0001) in women, and between age and ceramide (d18:1/24:1) in men (β (SE) = 1.86 (.77); p = .0179). In women of all ages, but not men, plasma ceramide (d18:1/24:1) was negatively correlated with plasma estradiol (r = -0.294; p = .007). Finally, in vitro experiments in human cancer cells expressing estrogen receptors showed that incubation with estradiol (10 nM, 24 h) significantly decreased ceramide accumulation. Together, the results suggest that aging is associated with an increase in circulating ceramide levels, which in post-menopausal women is at least partially associated with lower estradiol levels.

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