1. Center of Excellence for Post Harvest Technologies, North Carolina Research Campus, Suite 4222, 500 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081, USA.
2. Department of Biological Sciences, Life Science Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
3. Department of Food Science, 111 Food Science Building, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
The activity of N-hexanoyl-D-erythro-sphingosine, a C6-ceramide against angiogenesis was tested in vitro and in vivo. The effect of ceramide in inhibiting MCF-7 cancer cells was also determined. The aim of this study was to potentiate the effect of ceramide as anti-angiogenic compound that can regulate tumor induced angiogenesis.
C6-ceramide inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) tube formation in a dose-dependent manner within 24 hours. Ceramide at concentrations between 12.5 and 25 μM inhibited the viability of MCF-7 cells and reduced VEGF-induced cell migration in 24 hours. At 50 μM, ceramide induced MCF-7 cell death via autophagy as demonstrated by accumulation of MDC in ceramide-treated MCF-7 vacuoles. The expression of VEGF was reduced and the levels of cathepsin D in MCF-7 increased. In vivo, 50 μM ceramide caused a 40% reduction of new vessel formation in the CAM assay within 24 hours. Zebrafish exposed to 100 - 400 μM ceramide had a distinct disruption of blood vessel development at 48 hours post-fertilization. Ceramide-exposed embryos also had primary motoneurons exhibiting abnormal axonal trajectories and ectopic branching. Ceramide induced cell-death was not detected in the zebrafish assay. Collectively, these data indicate that ceramide is a potent anti-angiogenic compound and that the mechanism underlying its anti-angiogenic capabilities does not rely upon the induction of apoptosis.
Keywords: Ceramide, angiogenesis, zebrafish, MCF-7 cell-line, VEGF, apoptosis, autophagy