Inhibition of ceramide accumulation in AdipoR1–/– mice increases photoreceptor survival and improves vision

Dominik Lewandowski, Andrzej T. Foik, Roman Smidak, Elliot H. Choi, Jianye Zhang, Thanh Hoang, Aleksander Tworak, Susie Suh, Henri Leinonen, Zhiqian Dong, Antonio F.M. Pinto, Emily Tom, Jennings Luu, Joan Lee, Xiuli Ma, Erhard Bieberich, Seth Blackshaw, Alan Saghatelian, David C. Lyon, Dorota Skowronska-KrawczykMarcin Tabaka, Krzysztof Palczewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Adiponectin receptor 1 (ADIPOR1) is a lipid and glucose metabolism regulator that possesses intrinsic ceramidase activity. Mutations of the ADIPOR1 gene have been associated with nonsyndromic and syndromic retinitis pigmentosa. Here, we show that the absence of AdipoR1 in mice leads to progressive photoreceptor degeneration, significant reduction of electroretinogram amplitudes, decreased retinoid content in the retina, and reduced cone opsin expression. Single-cell RNA-Seq results indicate that ADIPOR1 encoded the most abundantly expressed ceramidase in mice and one of the 2 most highly expressed ceramidases in the human retina, next to acid ceramidase ASAH1. We discovered an accumulation of ceramides in the AdipoR1–/– retina, likely due to insufficient ceramidase activity for healthy retina function, resulting in photoreceptor death. Combined treatment with desipramine/L-cycloserine (DC) lowered ceramide levels and exerted a protective effect on photoreceptors in AdipoR1–/– mice. Moreover, we observed improvement in cone-mediated retinal function in the DC-treated animals. Lastly, we found that prolonged DC treatment corrected the electrical responses of the primary visual cortex to visual stimuli, approaching near-normal levels for some parameters. These results highlight the importance of ADIPOR1 ceramidase in the retina and show that pharmacological inhibition of ceramide generation can provide a therapeutic strategy for ADIPOR1-related retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA25
JournalJCI insight
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Lewandowski et al. This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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