The role of ceramides in metabolic disorders: when size and localization matters

Sarah M. Turpin-Nolan, Jens C. Brüning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Ceramide accumulation is a hallmark in the manifestation of numerous obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis. Until the early 2000s, ceramides were viewed as a homogenous class of sphingolipids. However, it has now become clear that ceramides exert fundamentally different effects depending on the specific fatty acyl chain lengths, which are integrated into ceramides by a group of enzymes known as dihydroceramide synthases. In addition, alterations in ceramide synthesis, trafficking and metabolism in specific cellular compartments exert distinct consequences on metabolic homeostasis. Here, we examine the emerging concept of how the intracellular localization of ceramides with distinct acyl chain lengths can regulate glucose metabolism, thus emphasizing their potential as targets in the development of novel and specific therapies for obesity and obesity-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-233
Number of pages10
JournalNature Reviews Endocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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