Ceramide is a sphingolipid with potent proinflammatory and proapoptotic properties. This study sought to determine whether pharmacological inhibition of ceramide biosynthesis in the intestine attenuates pathophysiological sequelae of shock induced by splanchnic artery occlusion and reperfusion. Ischemia and reperfusion injury was induced in anesthetized rats by clamping both the superior mesenteric artery and the celiac artery for 45 min followed by reperfusion. Within 6 min after reperfusion, animals developed significant systemic hypotension with 100% of the animals dying during the 4-h period of reperfusion. In parallel experiments, animals were necropsied after 60 min of reperfusion, and the ileum was harvested for histological examination and assessment of biochemical changes. Administration of fumonisin B1 (FB1), a competitive and reversible inhibitor of ceramide synthase (3 mg/kg, 15 min before reperfusion), significantly reduced i) the increased ceramide expression as detected by immunohistochemistry; ii) peroxynitrite-mediated protein nitration; iii) infiltration of the reperfused intestine with polymorphonuclear neutrophils following a decrease in intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression; iv) production of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α; and v) apoptosis in the ileum. Overall, tissue-protective effects were clearly observed upon histological examination of the ileum. These beneficial events were ultimately linked to decreases in both the development of hypotension and overall mortality. These results implicate ceramide as a key signaling molecule in splanchnic arterial ischemia and reperfusion-induced shock. The broader implications of our results provide a pharmacological rationale for the development of inhibitors of ceramide biosynthesis as novel therapeutics for ischemia and reperfusion-induced shock of several etiologies.
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