Decreased plasma levels of select very long chain ceramide species are associated with the development of nephropathy in type 1 diabetes.

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Journal Article

Publication Date



Metabolism: clinical and experimental






Adult; Albuminuria; Ceramides; Clinical Trials as Topic; Diabetes Complications; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1; Diabetic Nephropathies; Disease Progression; Female; Humans; Male; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Sphingolipids


OBJECTIVE: Sphingolipid metabolism is altered in diabetes and we analyzed the plasma concentrations of sphingolipid species to investigate their association with the development of albuminuria in type 1 patients with diabetes.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Samples were collected from 497 type 1 diabetic patients during their enrollment into the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT). We determined plasma concentrations of multiple ceramide species and individual sphingoid bases and their phosphates using high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and investigated their association with the development of albuminuria during 14-20 years of follow-up.

RESULTS: Patients exhibited normal albumin excretion rates (AER/24h) at the time of plasma sampling. Although the majority of patients (N = 291; 59%) exhibited normal levels of albuminuria throughout follow-up, 141 patients (28%) progressed to microalbuminuria (40 mg/24h ≤ AER/24h), while 65 (13%) progressed to macroalbuminuria (AER ≥ 300 mg/24h). To test the association of log transformed plasma sphingolipid level with the development of albuminuria, generalized logistic regression models were used where normal, micro- and macroalbuminuria were the outcomes of interest. Models were adjusted for DCCT treatment group, baseline retinopathy, gender, baseline HbA1c %, age, AER, lipid levels, diabetes duration, and the use of ACE/ARB drugs. Increased plasma levels of very long, but not long chain ceramide species measured at DCCT baseline were associated with decreased odds to develop macroalbuminuria during the subsequent nineteen years (DCCT Baseline to EDIC year 8).

CONCLUSION: These studies demonstrate, prospectively, that decreased plasma levels of select ceramide species are associated with the development of macroalbuminuria in type 1 diabetes.


This is an open access PubMed Central article.

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