Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 112, Issue 11, pp 1583–1590 | Cite as

High activity of acid sphingomyelinase in major depression

  • J. Kornhuber
  • A. Medlin
  • S. Bleich
  • V. Jendrossek
  • A. W. Henkel
  • J. Wiltfang
  • E. Gulbins
Rapid Communication


Acid sphingomyelinase (A-SMase) and its reaction product ceramide may play a role in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and in the therapeutic action of antidepressive drugs. In a prospective case-control study, A-SMase activity was measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 17 patients with a major depressive episode who were free of antidepressant drug therapy for at least 10 days and 8 healthy volunteers. In the patient group, A-SMase activity was correlated to the score (n = 17, r = 0.64, P = 0.005). The patient group exhibited higher A-SMase activity compared to healthy volunteers (T = 2.09, df = 21.33, P<0.05). In addition, we demonstrate that the antidepressants imipramine and amitriptyline induce a long-term reduction of the activity of A-SMase in cultured cells.

Keywords: Major depression, ceramide, acid sphingomyelinase, sphingomyelin, receptor signaling. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kornhuber
    • 1
  • A. Medlin
    • 2
  • S. Bleich
    • 1
  • V. Jendrossek
    • 3
  • A. W. Henkel
    • 1
  • J. Wiltfang
    • 1
  • E. Gulbins
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of ErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of GöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of TübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Molecular BiologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenGermany

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