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J Neurochem. 1993 Jul;61(1):290-7.

Lipid and fatty acid composition of brain tissue from adrenoleukodystrophy patients.

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Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, University of Stirling, Scotland, U.K.


White matter and active plaque tissue from adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) patients were analysed for lipid class and fatty acid compositions and the results compared with white matter from normal brain. ALD white matter was characterised by increased levels of cholesteryl esters and decreased levels of phosphatidylethanolamine, including phosphatidylethanolamine plasmalogen, in comparison with normal brain white matter. In addition to even higher levels of cholesteryl esters, ALD plaque tissue had reduced levels of cerebrosides as well as phosphatidylethanolamines. The loss of phosphatidylethanolamine plasmalogen is indicative of early demyelination. Total lipid from ALD white matter and ALD plaque tissue contained nearly five times and seven times, respectively, more 26:0 than total lipid from normal brain white matter. The 26:0 in ALD white matter was elevated in all lipid classes except phosphatidylinositol, but was located mainly in cerebrosides, phosphatidylcholine, sphingomyelin, and sulfatides. Most of the 26:0 in ALD plaque tissue was present in cholesteryl esters, followed by phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, with reduced amounts in cerebrosides as compared with ALD white matter. The results are consistent with an initial accumulation of very-long-chain fatty acids in ALD white matter, primarily in sphingolipids and phosphatidylcholine, and subsequent accumulation of very-long-chain fatty acids in cholesteryl esters during demyelination. In addition, it was notable that the sphingolipids, especially sphingomyelin in ALD brain, had decreased levels of 24:1 and increased levels of 18:0, as well as increased levels of very-long-chain fatty acids. The extent to which the data shed light on mechanisms of demyelination in ALD is discussed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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