Sphingolipids and physical function in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study

Danni Li, Aniqa B. Alam, Fang Yu, Anna Kucharska-Newton, B. Gwen Windham, Alvaro Alonso

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Long-chain sphingomyelins (SMs) may play an important role in the stability of myelin sheath underlying physical function. The objective of this study was to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of long-chain SMs [SM (41:1), SM (41:2), SM (43:1)] and ceramides [Cer (41:1) and Cer (43:1)] with physical function in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Plasma concentrations of SM (41:1), SM (41:2), SM (43:1), Cer (41:1) and Cer (43:1) were measured in 389 ARIC participants in 2011–13. Physical function was assessed by grip strength, Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), 4-m walking speed at both 2011–13 and 2016–17, and the modified Rosow-Breslau questionnaire in 2016–2017. Multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses were performed, controlling for demographic and clinical confounders. In cross-sectional analyses, plasma concentrations of SM 41:1 were positively associated with SPPB score (β-coefficients [95% confidence internal]: 0.33 [0.02, 0.63] per 1 standard deviation [SD] increase in log-transformed concentration, p value 0.04), 4-m walking speed (0.042 m/s [0.01, 0.07], p value 0.003), and negatively with self-reported disability (odds ratio = 0.73 [0.65, 0.82], p value < 0.0001). Plasma concentrations of the five metabolites examined were not significantly associated with longitudinal changes in physical function or incidence of poor mobility. In older adults, plasma concentrations of long-chain SM 41:1 were cross-sectionally positively associated with physical function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1169
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication is supported by the NIH/NIA grants R21AG059068, R01AG059654, R21AG061372, and NIH/NHLBI grant K24HL148521. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract nos. (HHSN268201700001I, HHSN268201700002I, HHSN268201700003I, HHSN268201700005I, HHSN268201700004I). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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