Due to its major role in maintaining the water-retaining properties of the epidermis, ceramide is of great commercial potentials in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries such as in hair and skin care products. Chemical synthesis of ceramide is a costly process, and developments of alternative cost-efficient production methods are of great interest. Present study was the first attempt to perform a systematic study on the production of ceramide through enzymatic hydrolysis of sphingomyelin. Sphingomyelin hydrolysis proved to be more efficient in two-phase (water:organic solvent) system than in one-phase (water-saturated organic solvent) system. Among the screened phospholipase C, the Clostridium petfringens enzyme had the highest sphingomyetin conversion rate, with very small temperature dependence. Addition of ethanol to the system markedly enhanced the rate of ceramide formation, and a mixture of ethyl acetate: hexane (50:50) was the best organic solvent tested. Other factors such as (NH4)(2)SO4, MCI and CaCl, were also tested but excluded for further consideration. On the basis of the initial experiments, the reaction system was optimized using response surface methodology including five factors (enzyme amount, water amount, ethanol amount, reaction time and the hexane ratio of organic solvent). Water content and enzyme amount was shown to have the most significant influence on the hydrolysis reaction in the fitted quadratic model. The efficiency of sphingomyelin hydrolysis was dramatically improved through systern evaluation and optimization, with the optimal conditions at 75 min reaction time, 3 U ml(-1) enzyme amount, 6% water amount, 1.8% ethanol arnount and 46% hexane in ethylacetate. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Journal of Biotechnology, 2006, Vol 123, Issue 1, p. 93-105