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Ceramide (Wikipedia)
General structures of sphingolipids
Ceramide. R represents the alkyl portion of a fatty acid.

Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules. A ceramide is composed of sphingosine and a fatty acid. Ceramides are found in high concentrations within the cell membrane of cells. They are one of the component lipids that make up sphingomyelin, one of the major lipids in the lipid bilayer. Contrary to previous assumptions that ceramides and other sphingolipids found in cell membrane were purely supporting structural elements, ceramide can participate in a variety of cellular signaling: examples include regulating differentiation, proliferation, and programmed cell death (PCD) of cells.

The word ceramide comes from the Latin cera (wax) and amide. Ceramide is a component of vernix caseosa, the waxy or cheese-like white substance found coating the skin of newborn human infants.

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