Plasma Ceramides: A Novel Predictor of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events After Coronary Angiography

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Objective—Ceramides are sphingolipids involved with cellular signaling. Synthesis of ceramides occurs in all tissues. Ceramides accumulate within tissues and the blood plasma during metabolic dysfunction, dyslipidemia, and inflammation. Elevations of ceramides are predictive of cardiovascular mortality. We sought to verify the utility of plasma concentrations of 4 ceramides: N-palmitoyl-sphingosine [Cer(16:0)], N-stearoyl-sphingosine [Cer(18:0)], N-nervonoyl-sphingosine [Cer(24:1)], and N-lignoceroyl-sphingosine [Cer(24:0)] in predicting major adverse cardiovascular events in a diverse patient population referred for coronary angiography.Approach and Results—Plasma ceramides were measured in 495 participants before nonurgent coronary angiography. Coronary artery disease, defined as >50% stenosis in ≥1 coronary artery, was identified 265 (54%) cases. Ceramides were not significantly associated with coronary artery disease. Patients were followed for a combined primary end point of myocardial infarction, percutaneous intervention, coronary artery bypass, stroke, or death within 4 years. Ceramides were significantly predictive of outcomes after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, smoking, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, triglycerides, serum glucose, and family history of coronary artery disease. The fully adjusted per SD hazard ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.50 (1.16–1.93) for Cer(16:0), 1.42 (1.11–1.83) for Cer(18:0), 1.43 (1.08–1.89) for Cer(24:1), and 1.58 (1.22–2.04) for the ceramide risk score.Conclusions—Elevated plasma concentrations of ceramides are independently associated with major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with and without coronary artery disease.

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