Background: Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) is a relatively common group of inherited neurodegenerative disorders characterised by the accumulation of autofluorescent lipopigments (ceroid) similar to lipofuscin. Because of this property, studies have concentrated on fatty acid metabolism and lipid peroxidation.
Methods: In the present study, the fatty acid composition of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and the molecular species compositions of diacylglycerophosphocholine (diacyl GPC), diacylglycerophosphoethanolamine (diacyl GPE) and alkenylacyl GPE (plasmalogens) were investigated in cultured skin fibroblasts from three patients with a confirmed diagnosis of the late infantile form of the disease (LINCL, CLN2) and three healthy age-matched controls.
Results: Relatively minor differences in the fatty acid compositions of PC and PE were observed between patients and controls. However, dimethyl acetals of plasmalogens were found to be 40% higher in the patients compared to in the controls. Control and LINCL fibroblasts displayed only slight differences in the molecular compositions of diacyl GPE and diacyl GPC. In contrast, compared with normal cells, LINCL fibroblasts had higher levels of alkenylacyl GPE species containing both 18 : 1 and polyunsaturated fatty acids, but lower levels of species with 16 : 0 or 18 : 0 in the sn-1 position.
Conclusion: The molecular composition of PC and PE subclasses in skin fibroblasts of healthy subjects and patients suffering from LINCL is here described for the first time. While few differences are noticeable in the fatty acid composition of PC and PE and the molecular species distribution of diacylGPC and diacylGPE, the alkenylacyl GPE (or ethanolamine plasmalogens) were found to differ significantly between patients and healthy controls.