Decreased lysophosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylcholine ratio in cerebrospinal fluid in Alzheimer's disease

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2003 Aug;110(8):949-55. doi: 10.1007/s00702-003-0007-9.


Choline containing phospholipids are essential for the integrity of the'cell'membrane. Minor changes in the lysophosphatidylcholine (lyso-PC)/phosphatidylcholine (PC) ratio may lead to neuronal damage and cell loss. Several studies have shown protein and lipid oxidation in Alzheimer's disease (AD) affected brain regions. Amyloid-beta peptides may induce free-radical oxidative stress which normally is counteracted by anti-oxidant defense mechanisms. We hypothesize that oxidation may lead to changed concentrations of choline containing phospholipids in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of AD patients, because of the susceptibility of the unsaturated acyl-chains of PC for oxidation. PC and lyso-PC were determined in CSF of AD patients (n=19) and subjects with subjective memory complaints without dementia (n=19) by tandem mass spectrometry. No differences in total PC concentrations were observed between both study groups. Furthermore, we could not demonstrate different concentrations of PC species containing linoleic acid and PC species containing arachidonic acid. Interestingly, lyso-PC concentrations tended to be lower while the lyso-PC/PC ratio was significantly decreased in CSF of AD patients compared to controls (0.36% versus 0.54%; P=0.017). A comparable decrease was found for the lyso-PC/PC ratio for PC containing linoleic acid (P=0.022) or arachidonic acid (P=0.010), respectively. The lower lyso-PC/PC ratio in CSF of patients with AD may reflect alterations in the metabolism of choline-containing phospholipids in the brain in AD, and suggests that PC species containing linoleic acid or arachidonic acid are equally involved.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Female
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Phosphatidylcholines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Free Radicals
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Choline