Elevated Plasma Ceramides Are Associated With Higher White Matter Hyperintensity Volume-Brief Report

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Sphingolipids, including S1P (sphingosine-1-phosphate) and ceramides, have been associated with vascular tone, blood pressure regulation, cardiovascular outcomes, and mortality. However, the relationship between plasma sphingolipids and cerebrovascular disease has not been examined. We aimed to assess the cross-sectional association between plasma sphingolipids and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume, which is a marker of cerebrovascular disease. Approach and Results: We included 588 participants (302 men and 286 women), aged 60 to 93, enrolled in the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had MRI and plasma sphingolipids at the same study visit. Fasting plasma was obtained, and ceramides and S1P were assayed using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery was used to measure WMH volume, defined as percent total intracranial volume. We used linear regression to cross-sectionally examine the relationships between plasma sphingolipids and WMH; both were log-transformed. In multivariable analyses adjusting for age, sex, and hypertension, higher levels of ceramide C16:0 (b [95% CI]=0.24 [0.02-0.45]) and the ceramide ratios C16:0_24:0 (b [95% CI]=0.30 [0.12-0.48]) and C24:1_24:0 (b [95% CI]=0.24 [0.07-0.41]) were associated with a higher WMH volume. A higher ceramide score was also associated with higher WMH volume (b [95% CI]=0.03 (0.01-0.04]). We did not observe any association between S1P and WMH volume. CONCLUSIONS: Higher plasma ceramide C16:0 and 2 specific ceramide ratios (C16:0_24:0 and C24:1_24:0) are associated with greater WMH volumes, independent of hypertension, suggesting their utility for measurement of cerebrovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2431-2436
Number of pages6
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • aging
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • ceramides
  • hypertension
  • sphingolipids
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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