Regulation of neutral sphingomyelinase-2 by GSH: A new insight to the role of oxidative stress in aging-associated inflammation

Kristina Rutkute, Reto H. Asmis, Mariana N. Nikolova-Karakashian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress and inflammation are fundamental for the onset of aging and appear to be causatively linked. Previously, we reported that hepatocytes from aged rats, compared with young rats, are hyperresponsive to interleukin-1β (IL-1β) stimulation and exhibit more potent c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and attenuated interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1 (IRAK-1) degradation. An age-related increase in the activity of neutral sphingomyelinase-2 (NSMase-2), a plasma membrane enzyme, was found to be responsible for the IL-1β hyperresponsiveness. The results reported here show that increased NSMase activity during aging is caused by a 60-70% decrease in hepatocyte GSH levels. GSH, at concentrations typically found in hepatocytes from young animals, inhibits NSMase activity in a biphasic dose-dependent manner. Inhibition of GSH synthesis in young hepatocytes activates NSMase, causing increased JNK activation and IRAK-1 stabilization in response to IL-1β, mimicking the hyperresponsiveness typical for aged hepatocytes. Vice versa, increased GSH content in hepatocytes from aged animals by treatment with N-acetylcysteine inhibits NSMase activity and restores normal IL-1β response. Importantly, the GSH decline, NSMase activation, and IL-1β hyperresponsiveness are not observed in aged, calorie-restricted rats. In summary, this report demonstrates that depletion of cellular GSH during aging plays an important role in regulating the hepatic response to IL-1β by inducing NSMase-2 activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2443-2452
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • C-Jun N-terminal kinase
  • Calorie restriction
  • Ceramide
  • Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1
  • Reduced glutathione

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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