The metabolic fate of exogenous [3H]sphingosine was investigated in five types of cultured cells: primary cultures of neurons and astrocytes, murine and human neuroblastoma cells and human skin fibroblasts. After administration of 40 nM [3-3H]sphingosine into a cell-conditioned medium containing fetal calf serum, all cell types rapidly and efficiently incorporated the long-chain base in a time-dependent fashion. In all cases, after a 120 min pulse, the amount of radioactivity taken up was in the range of the endogenous sphingosine content. However, unchanged [3H]sphingosine represented only a very minor portion of the label incorporated into cells throughout the pulse period (10–120 min), indicating rapid and efficient sphingosine metabolism in these cells. Most of the [3H]sphingosine taken up was metabolically processed, either by degradation (assessed as 3H2O release into the culture medium) or by N-acylation (mainly to radioactive ceramide, sphingomyelin, neutral glycolipids and gangliosides). [3H]Sphingosine 1-phosphate accounted for less than 2% of the total radioactivity incorporated in all cases. Throughout the pulse period and in all cell types, 3H-labelled organic metabolites largely prevailed over 3H2O, indicating that N-acylation is the major metabolic fate of sphingosine in these cells under apparently physiological conditions. These results are consistent with the notion that sphingosine has a rapid turnover in the cells studied, and indicate that regulation of the basal level of this bioactive molecule occurs mainly through N-acylation.
- sphingosine metabolism
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1999