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Journal of Lipids
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 565316, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/565316
Review Article

Apoptotic Sphingolipid Ceramide in Cancer Therapy

1Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan
2Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan
3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan

Received 24 August 2010; Accepted 26 October 2010

Academic Editor: Xian-Cheng Jiang

Copyright © 2011 Wei-Ching Huang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Apoptosis, also called programmed cell death, is physiologically and pathologically involved in cellular homeostasis. Escape of apoptotic signaling is a critical strategy commonly used for cancer tumorigenesis. Ceramide, a derivative of sphingolipid breakdown products, acts as second messenger for multiple extracellular stimuli including growth factors, chemical agents, and environmental stresses, such as hypoxia, and heat stress as well as irradiation. Also, ceramide acts as tumor-suppressor lipid because a variety of stress stimuli cause apoptosis by increasing intracellular ceramide to initiate apoptotic signaling. Defects on ceramide generation and sphingolipid metabolism are developed for cancer cell survival and cancer therapy resistance. Alternatively, targeting ceramide metabolism to correct these defects might provide opportunities to overcome cancer therapy resistance.