To Be or Not to Be : the Divergent Action and Metabolism of Sphingosine-1 Phosphate in Pancreatic Beta-Cells in Response to Cytokines and Fatty Acids.

Sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive sphingolipid with multiple functions conveyed by the activation of cell surface receptors and/or intracellular mediators. A growing body of evidence indicates its important role in pancreatic insulin-secreting beta-cells that are necessary for maintenance of glucose homeostasis. The dysfunction and/or death of beta-cells lead to diabetes development. Diabetes is a serious public health burden with incidence growing rapidly in recent decades. The two major types of diabetes are the autoimmune-mediated type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and the metabolic stress-related type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Despite many differences in the development, both types of diabetes are characterized by chronic hyperglycemia and inflammation. The inflammatory component of diabetes remains under-characterized. Recent years have brought new insights into the possible mechanism involved in the increased inflammatory response, suggesting that environmental factors such as a westernized diet may participate in this process. Dietary lipids, particularly palmitate, are substrates for the biosynthesis of bioactive sphingolipids. Disturbed serum sphingolipid profiles were observed in both T1DM and T2DM patients. Many polymorphisms were identified in genes encoding enzymes of the sphingolipid pathway, including sphingosine kinase 2 (SK2), the S1P generating enzyme which is highly expressed in beta-cells. Proinflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids have been shown to modulate the expression and activity of S1P-generating and S1P-catabolizing enzymes. In this review, the similarities and differences in the action of extracellular and intracellular S1P in beta-cells exposed to cytokines or free fatty acids will be identified and the outlook for future research will be discussed.


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