Background: Ceramides are bioactive lipid species that mediate numerous cell-signaling events. Elevated plasma ceramides concentration constitutes a risk factor for several pathologies. Multiple studies have affirmed the plasma concentrations of 4 specific ceramides (Cer16:0, Cer18:0, Cer24:0, and Cer24:1) can predict cardiovascular disease risk. Furthermore, these ceramides can be altered by many lipid-lowering therapies. Understanding the biological variability within an individual, and within a population, will further inform the clinical use of plasma ceramides as a biomarker. In this study, we aimed to define the intra- and interbiological variability of ceramides in a healthy reference population in a weekly and monthly manner. Methods: Fasting plasma from 24 healthy adults was collected daily (5 days), weekly (4 weeks), and monthly (7 months). Ceramide concentrations were measured with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). For analysis, we used random-effects regression models to estimate variance components. Results: The analytical variability was smaller compared to the biological variability overall. The greatest variation reported was between-subject variation for all ceramide species. The critical difference-reference change value (RCV) for within-subject variations monthly were 0.07 mcmol/L (Cer16:0), 0.04 mcmol/L (Cer18:0), 1.09 mcmol/L (Cer24:0), and 0.27 mcmol/L (Cer24:1). The index of individuality (IOI) of ceramides were 0.82 (Cer16:0), 0.96 (Cer18:0), 1.06 (Cer24:0), and 0.89 (Cer24:1). The most consistent ceramide species was Cer18:0 with the lowest within- and between-subject critical differences in weekly and monthly measurements. Conclusions: Overall, this study demonstrates that the variability of ceramide concentrations at different time points is minimal within individuals, allowing a single draw to be sufficient at least in a yearly time frame.
- atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
- reference change value
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