The human lipidome comprises over tens of thousands of distinct lipid species in addition to total cholesterol and the other conventional lipid traits that are routinely measurable in the peripheral circulation. Of the lipid species considered to exhibit bioactive functions, sphingolipids are a class of molecules that have shown relevance to human disease risk and cardiovascular outcomes in particular. In this issue of the JCI, Poss et al. conducted targeted lipidomics in a case-control study involving over 600 individuals and found a sphingolipid profile that predicted coronary artery disease status. In the context of emerging evidence linking sphingolipid biology with cardiovascular pathophysiology, these results suggest the potential utility of serum sphingolipids as cholesterol-independent markers of risk and even future targets for optimizing cardiovascular health.
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