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J Neurochem. 1997 Sep;69(3):889-901.

Phospholipase A2 and its role in brain tissue.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, U.S.A.


Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) is the name for the class of lipolytic enzymes that hydrolyze the acyl group from the sn-2 position of glycerophospholipids, generating free fatty acids and lysophospholipids. The products of the PLA2-catalyzed reaction can potentially act as second messengers themselves, or be further metabolized to eicosanoids, platelet-activating factor, and lysophosphatidic acid. All of these are recognized as bioactive lipids that can potentially alter many ongoing cellular processes. The presence of PLA2 in the central nervous system, accompanied by the relatively large quantity of potential substrate, poses an interesting dilemma as to the role PLA2 has during both physiologic and pathologic states. Several different PLA2 enzymes exist in brain, some of which have been partially characterized. They are classified into two subtypes, Ca2+-dependent and Ca2+-independent, based on their catalytic dependence on Ca2+. Under physiologic conditions, PLA2 may be involved in phospholipid turnover, membrane remodeling, exocytosis, detoxification of phospholipid peroxides, and neurotransmitter release. However, under pathological situations, increased PLA2 activity may result in the loss of essential membrane glycerophospholipids, resulting in altered membrane permeability, ion homeostasis, increased free fatty acid release, and the accumulation of lipid peroxides. These processes, along with loss of ATP, may be responsible for the loss of membrane phospholipid and subsequent neuronal injury found in ischemia, spinal cord injury, and other neurodegenerative diseases. This review outlines the current knowledge of the PLA2 found in the central nervous system and attempts to define the role of PLA2 during both physiologic and pathologic conditions.

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