Lipid rafts in neuronal signaling and function

Trends Neurosci. 2002 Aug;25(8):412-7. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(02)02215-4.


Lipid rafts are plasma membrane microdomains rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids, which provide a particularly ordered lipid environment. Rafts are enriched in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, as well as proteins involved in signal transduction and intracellular trafficking. In neurons, lipid rafts act as platforms for the signal transduction initiated by several classes of neurotrophic factors, including neurotrophins and glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-family ligands. Emerging evidence also indicates that such rafts are important for neuronal cell adhesion, axon guidance and synaptic transmission. Thus, lipid rafts are structurally unique components of plasma membranes, crucial for neural development and function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Growth Cones / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neurotransmitter Agents