Glycerophospholipids in brain: their metabolism, incorporation into membranes, functions, and involvement in neurological disorders

Chem Phys Lipids. 2000 Jun;106(1):1-29. doi: 10.1016/s0009-3084(00)00128-6.


Neural membranes contain several classes of glycerophospholipids which turnover at different rates with respect to their structure and localization in different cells and membranes. The glycerophospholipid composition of neural membranes greatly alters their functional efficacy. The length of glycerophospholipid acyl chain and the degree of saturation are important determinants of many membrane characteristics including the formation of lateral domains that are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Receptor-mediated degradation of glycerophospholipids by phospholipases A(l), A(2), C, and D results in generation of second messengers such as arachidonic acid, eicosanoids, platelet activating factor and diacylglycerol. Thus, neural membrane phospholipids are a reservoir for second messengers. They are also involved in apoptosis, modulation of activities of transporters, and membrane-bound enzymes. Marked alterations in neural membrane glycerophospholipid composition have been reported to occur in neurological disorders. These alterations result in changes in membrane fluidity and permeability. These processes along with the accumulation of lipid peroxides and compromised energy metabolism may be responsible for the neurodegeneration observed in neurological disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Glycerophospholipids / classification
  • Glycerophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / classification
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Membranes / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Phospholipases / metabolism
  • Plasmalogens / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems


  • Glycerophospholipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Plasmalogens
  • Phospholipases