Suppression of intestinal inflammation and inflammation-driven colon cancer in mice by dietary sphingomyelin: Importance of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ expression
Sphingolipid metabolites play a role in the initiation and perpetuation of inflammatory responses. Since intestinal inflammation is a driving force in the development of colon cancer, in the present study, we investigated the suppression of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis by dietary sphingomyelin in mice that lack functional peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ) in intestinal epithelial and immune cells. Dietary spingomyelin decreased colonic inflammation in mice of both genotypes but more efficiently in mice expressing PPAR-γ. Using a real-time polymerase chain reaction array, we detected an up-regulation in genes involved in Th1 (interferon γ) and Th17 (interleukin [IL]-17 and IL-23) responses despite the reduced inflammation. However, the genes involved in Th2 (IL-4, IL-13 and IL-13ra2) and Treg (IL-10rb) anti-inflammatory responses were up-regulated in a PPAR-γ-dependent manner. In order to direct mechanistic studies of how PPAR-γ expression is involved in SM-induced suppression of DSS colitis, we investigated the effect of dietary SM in DSS-treated mice that lack PPAR-γ in the CD4+ T-cells. While the pathogenesis of colitis was independent of PPAR-γ expression in CD4+ T-cells, dietary SM decreased disease activity and colonic inflammation in mice of both genotypes but more efficiently in mice expressing PPAR-γ, indicating both PPAR-γ dependent and independent signaling pathways. In conclusion, in contrast to endogenous sphingolipid metabolites, dietary SM modulated both pro- and anti-inflammatory responses at the early stages of the disease in a partially PPAR-γ dependent manner resulting in a suppression of inflammation that may be critical for the suppression of inflammation-driven colon cancer.