Apolipoprotein M (apoM) is a carrier and a modulator of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), an important multifunctional bioactive lipid. Since peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) is reportedly associated with the function and metabolism of S1P, we investigated the modulation of apoM/S1P homeostasis by PPARγ. First, we investigated the modulation of apoM and S1P homeostasis by the overexpression or knockdown of PPARγ in HepG2 cells and found that both the overexpression and the knockdown of PPARγ decreased apoM expression and S1P synthesis. When we activated or suppressed the PPARγ more mildly with pioglitazone or GW9662, we found that pioglitazone suppressed apoM expression and S1P synthesis, while GW9662 increased them. Next, we overexpressed PPARγ in mouse liver through adenoviral gene transfer and observed that both the plasma and hepatic apoM levels and the plasma S1P levels decreased, while the hepatic S1P levels increased, in the presence of enhanced sphingosine kinase activity. Treatment with pioglitazone decreased both the plasma and hepatic apoM and S1P levels only in diet-induced obese mice. Moreover, the overexpression of apoM increased, while the knockdown of apoM suppressed PPARγ activities in HepG2 cells. These results suggested that PPARγ regulates the S1P levels by modulating apoM in a bell-shaped manner, with the greatest levels of apoM/S1P observed when PPARγ was mildly expressed and that hepatic apoM/PPARγ axis might maintain the homeostasis of S1P metabolism.

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