Ceramides are a family of lipid (group of naturally occurring molecules like fats, waxes, vitamins) molecules. A ceramide is composed of sphingosine (unsaturated hydrocarbon chain, which forms a primary part of cell membrane lipids) and a fatty acid. Ceramides are found in high concentrations within the cell (biological) membrane of cells. They are one of the component lipids that make up sphingomyelin (a type of lipid found in animal cell membrane), one of the major lipids in the lipid bilayer (thin membrane made up of 2 layers of lipid molecules). For years, it was assumed that ceramides and other sphingolipids (class of lipids derived from sphingosine) found in the bi layer cell membrane were purely structural elements. This is now known to be not completely true - Ceramide can actually act as a signaling molecule.
What are the methods of ceramide synthesis?
Cermaide is generated via three methods. They are as shown below
Sphingomyelin hydrolysis: In Sphingomyelin hydrolysis, sphingomyelin , a sphingolipid common in the cell membrane, is catalyzed by the enzyme Sphingomyelinase to undergo hydrolysis. In this process, the molecule breaks down through a reaction with water. Ceramide is generated as an end result.
De novo method: A series of enzymes create ceramide out of a number of simpler molecules. In this method ceramide is synthesized in the Endoplasmic reticulum, and then transferred to the Golgi apparatus, the specialized part of a cell in an organism.
In the salvage pathway: In the salvage pathway, complex sphingolipids are broken down to form sphingosine, which in turn is used to produce ceramide.
What is the role of ceramides in our bodies?
The most well-known functions of ceramides include:
Regulating the differentiation:Cell differentiation is the process by which a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type.
Programmed cell death (PCD): PCD is death of cell in any form.
Proliferation (cell population): it refers to growth of cell populations, where one cell (mother You do not have access to view this node) grows and divides to produce 2 “daughter You do not have access to view this node”.
Apoptosis (Type1 PCD): It is the process of programmed cell death (PCD) that may occur in multi cellular organisms. Apoptosis, a form of PCD is essential for the maintenance of normal cellular physiological response to many forms of cellular stress. Due to its apoptosis-inducing effects in cancer cells, ceramide has been termed the “tumor suppressor lipid”. Apoptosis is a fundamental function in the development of You do not have access to view this node.
Cell Senescence: Cell Senescence is the change in the biology of an organism as it ages after its maturity.
Diseases: Roles for ceramide and its downstream metabolites have also been suggested in a number of pathological states including cancer, neuro degeneration (loss of structure or function of neurons), diabetes, obesity, and inflammation.
Signaling molecule: At present, the means by which ceramide acts as a signaling molecule are not clear. It has been hypothesized that ceramide stabilizes lipid rafts, platforms made of smaller lipids, which can link extracellular signals inside the You do not have access to view this node.
What is the role of ceramide in the skin?
Ceramides are essential lipids found in the surface layer of skin that help maintain the integrity of the skin’s barrier layer. They are mortar that holds the skin cells together. When this barrier is intact, skin looks smooth and glowing. The ceramide lipids limit the loss of water from the skin and acts as a barrier against harmful substances penetrating the skin. With age and environmental exposure, skin’s natural ceramides can be compromised leading to loss of moisture, roughness, fine lines and wrinkles. So, ceramides have become a common ingredient in the skin care products which aims to increase hydration in the skin to strengthen the moisture.