Fingolimod attenuates ceramide-induced blood–brain barrier dysfunction in multiple sclerosis by targeting reactive astrocytes
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has previously been shown to participate in neurodegenerative processes including Alzheimer's disease. However, the mechanisms leading to increased IL-6 expression in the brain remain largely unknown. We have studied the effects of synthetic ceramides and sphingomyelinase as possible regulators of IL-6 gene expression in a human astrocytoma cell line. The synthetic ceramides C2- and C6-ceramide as well as the enzyme sphingomyelinase were able to induce IL-6 gene transcription and protein synthesis in a dose-dependent manner with maximal IL-6 mRNA levels being reached after 4 h of ceramide treatment. We propose that the sphingomyelin pathway is part of the signal transduction cascade leading to IL-6 gene expression in astrocytes, and that this pathway may be involved in IL-6-mediated neurodegenerative processes.