Dietary sphingolipids contribute to health via intestinal maintenance

Shinji Yamashita, Mikio Kinoshita, Teruo Miyazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


As sphingolipids are constituents of the cell and vacuole membranes of eukaryotic cells, they are a critical component acquired from our daily diets. In the present review, we highlight the knowledge regarding how dietary sphingolipids affect our health, particularly our intestinal health. Animal-and plant-derived foods contain, respectively, sphingomyelin (SM) and glucosylceramide (GlcCer) as their representative sphingolipids, and the sphingoid base as a specific structure of sphingolipids also differs depending upon the source and class. For example, sphingosine is predominant among animal sphingolipids, and tri-hydroxy bases are present in free ceramide (Cer) from plants and fungi. Dietary sphingolipids exhibit low absorption ratios; however, they possess various functions. GlcCer facilitates improvements in intestinal impairments, lipid metabolisms, and skin disorders, and SM can exert both similar and different effects compared to those elicited by GlcCer. We discuss the digestion, absorption, metabolism, and function of sphingolipids while focused on the structure. Additionally, we also review old and new classes in the context of current advancements in analytical instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7052
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 1


  • Ceramide
  • Glucosylceramide
  • Inflammation
  • Intestine
  • Sphingomyelin
  • Sphingosine


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