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Neuroscientist. 2001 Jun;7(3):232-45.

Plasmalogens: workhorse lipids of membranes in normal and injured neurons and glia.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1218, USA.


Plasmalogens are unique glycerophospholipids because they have an enol ether double bond at the sn-1 position of the glycerol backbone. They are found in all mammalian tissues, with ethanolamine plasmalogens 10-fold higher than choline plasmalogens except in muscles. The enol ether double bond at the sn-1 position makes plasmalogens more susceptible to oxidative stress than the corresponding ester-bonded glycerophospholipids. Plasmalogens are not only structural membrane components and a reservoir for second messengers but may also be involved in membrane fusion, ion transport, and cholesterol efflux. Plasmalogens may also act as antioxidants, thus protecting cells from oxidative stress. Receptor-mediated degradation of plasmalogens by plasmalogen-selective phospholipase A2 results in the generation of arachidonic acid, eicosanoids, and platelet activating factor. Low levels of these metabolites have trophic effects, but at high concentration they are cytotoxic and may be involved in allergic response, inflammation, and trauma. Levels of plasmalogens are decreased in several neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, ischemia, and spinal cord trauma. This may be due to the stimulation of plasmalogen-selective phospholipase A2. A deficiency of plasmalogens in peroxisomal disorders and Niemann-Pick type C disease indicates that this deficiency may be due to the decreased activity of plasmalogen synthesizing enzymes that occur in peroxisomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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