2018 Volume 25 Issue 1 Pages 16-26
Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a potent lipid mediator that works on five kinds of S1P receptors located on the cell membrane. In the circulation, S1P is distributed to HDL, followed by albumin. Since S1P and HDL share several bioactivities, S1P is believed to be responsible for the pleiotropic effects of HDL. Plasma S1P levels are reportedly lower in subjects with coronary artery disease, suggesting that S1P might be deeply involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In basic experiments, however, S1P appears to possess both pro-atherosclerotic and anti-atherosclerotic properties; for example, S1P possesses anti-apoptosis, anti-inflammation, and vaso-relaxation properties and maintains the barrier function of endothelial cells, while S1P also promotes the egress and activation of lymphocytes and exhibits pro-thrombotic properties. Recently, the mechanism for the biased distribution of S1P on HDL has been elucidated; apolipoprotein M (apoM) carries S1P on HDL. ApoM is also a modulator of S1P, and the metabolism of apoM-containing lipoproteins largely affects the plasma S1P level. Moreover, apoM modulates the biological properties of S1P. S1P bound to albumin exerts both beneficial and harmful effects in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, while S1P bound to apoM strengthens anti-atherosclerotic properties and might weaken the pro-atherosclerotic properties of S1P. Although the detailed mechanisms remain to be elucidated, apoM and S1P might be novel targets for the alleviation of atherosclerotic diseases in the future.