Associations Between Plasma Ceramides and Cerebral Microbleeds or Lacunes

Eseosa T. Ighodaro, Jonathan Graff-Radford, Jeremy A. Syrjanen, Hai H. Bui, Ronald C. Petersen, David S. Knopman, Clifford R. Jack, Samantha M. Zuk, Prashanthi Vemuri, Michelle M. Mielke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: High plasma ceramide levels and ratios are associated with poor outcomes in individuals with cardiovascular disease; less is known about their relation to cerebral small vessel disease. We examined whether high plasma ceramide levels or ratios were associated with cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) and lacunes and whether associations differ by sex. Approach and Results: We included 548 participants enrolled in the MCSA (Mayo Clinic Study of Aging) with concurrent plasma ceramide assays and magnetic resonance imaging. CMBs were quantified on T2∗ magnetic resonance imaging and lacunes on T2 fluid-attenuated inversion recovery magnetic resonance imaging. Fasting plasma ceramides were assayed using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. We used logistic regression models adjusting for age, sex, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus to examine the relationship between ceramides and presence of a lacune; hurdle models were used for presence and number of CMBs. Each SD increase in the log ceramide C16:0/24:0 ratio was associated with greater odds of a CMB (odds ratio, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.01-1.64]). There was an interaction between sex and the ceramide C16:0/24:0 ratio (P=0.049). The association between this ratio and presence of a CMB was stronger for women (odds ratio, 1.87 [95% CI, 1.20-3.00]) than men (odds ratio, 1.09 [95% CI, 0.80-1.46]). Several ceramides and all ceramide ratios were associated with number of CMBs. We did not find associations between plasma ceramides and lacunes. Conclusions: In a population-based sample, the plasma ceramide C16:0/24:0 ratio was associated with CMBs and was stronger for women. Plasma ceramides are differentially associated with cerebral small vessel pathologies. Graphic Abstract: A graphic abstract is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2785-2793
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • association
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • ceramides
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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