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Sphingolipids (SLs) are ubiquitous structural components of cell membranes and are essential for cell functions under physiological conditions or during disease progression. Abundant evidence supports that SLs and their metabolites, including ceramide (Cer), ceramide-1-phosphate (C1P), sphingosine (So), sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), are signaling molecules that regulate a diverse range of cellular processes and human health. However, there are limited reviews on the emerging roles of exogenous dietary SLs in human health. In this review, we discuss the ubiquitous presence of dietary SLs, highlighting their structures and contents in foodstuffs, particularly in sea foods. The digestion and metabolism of dietary SLs is also discussed. Focus is given to the roles of SLs in both the etiology and prevention of diseases, including bacterial infection, cancers, neurogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases, skin integrity, and metabolic syndrome (MetS). We propose that dietary SLs represent a "functional" constituent as emerging strategies for improving human health. Gaps in research that could be of future interest are also discussed.


Xiaoxu Wang, Yuming Wang, Jie Xu, Changhu Xue. Sphingolipids in food and their critical roles in human health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2021;61(3):462-491

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PMID: 32208869

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