Lipid of the Month

Each month we highlight a lipid of scientific interest. The LIPID MAPS® Lipid of the Month Archive lists lipids highlighted from 2015 - present.

September 2022

Lipid of the month Glucosylsphingosine

Glucosyl sphingosine was first detected in mammalian tissue nearly fifty years ago when it was observed in patients with Gaucher's disease1, This condition is characterized by a deficiency in glucocerebrosidase, the enzyme which removes the glucose from glucosyl ceramide to form ceramide. As a result, glucosyl ceramide accumulates in certain tissues. 

Glucosyl sphingosine is formed from glucosyl ceramide by removal of the acyl group. This is an unusual reaction which is not observed in healthy subjects. In the skin of patients suffering from atopic dermatitis (AD) however, glucosyl sphingosine is seen in high amounts due to increased levels of an enzyme which specifically removes the acyl chain from glucosyl ceramide2.

Glucosyl sphingosine has been implicated as the source of irritation and itchiness in AD3  with recent papers suggesting a mechanism by which it activates various molecular receptors and ion channels in the skin which seem to interact with each other4,5.Understanding this mechanism more fully could help in treating the symptoms of AD.


  • Isolation and characterization of glucosylsphingosine from Gaucher's spleen
    J Lipid Res
  • Abnormal Expression of the Novel Epidermal Enzyme, Glucosylceramide Deacylase, and the Accumulation of its Enzymatic Reaction Product, Glucosylsphingosine, in the Skin of Patients with Atopic Dermatitis
    Lab Invest
    DOI 10.1097/01.lab.0000059931.66821.92
  • Glucosylsphingosine induces itch-scratch responses in mice
    Biomol. Ther. (Seoul)
    DOI 10.4062/biomolther.2010.18.3.316
  • Glucosylsphingosine evokes pruritus via activation of 5-HT2A receptor and TRPV4 in sensory neurons
    Br. J. Pharmacol.
    DOI 10.1111/bph.15733
  • Activation of serotonin receptor 2 by glucosylsphingosine can be enhanced by TRPA1 but not TRPV1: Implication of a novel glucosylsphingosine-mediated itch pathway
    Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr
    DOI 10.1016/j.bbamem.2022.184014

Lipid of the Month Archive