Changing fatty acid content of growth cone lipids prior to synaptogenesis

J Neurochem. 1992 Jul;59(1):318-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1992.tb08906.x.


The developing mouse was used to assess biochemical changes in membrane lipids during the period when nerve growth cones become synapses. Growth cone particles and synaptosomes were simultaneously obtained from common brain homogenates. Incorporation of the essential fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (22:6 omega-3), was correlated with the developmental changes in endogenous fatty acid content of growth cones and synaptosomes. Analysis of endogenous lipid content indicated that, at all ages studied, the growth cones contained more arachidonoyl acyl chains (20:4 omega-6) than did synaptosomes. Before the onset of synaptogenesis, levels of arachidonoyl chains increased and levels of 22:6, oleoyl and linoleoyl chains decreased in synaptosomes. Although stearoyl and palmitoyl (16:0) remained stable in synaptosomes, 16:0 decreased in growth cones. With the exception of 16:0 and 20:4, endogenous fatty acyl content of growth cones and synaptosomes became similar by postnatal day 10, which coincides with the onset of synaptogenesis. When 5-day-old mouse pups were injected intraperitoneally with [3H]22:6, the incorporation into growth cone and synaptosome phospholipids was greatest in phosphatidylethanolamine, followed by phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine. Nominal labeling was present in phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylinositol. Labeling in neutral lipids was less than that of phospholipids, with triacylglycerol incorporating most of the neutral lipid label, followed by diacylglycerol and free 22:6. Only the growth cone fraction contained detectable amounts of 22:6-labeled cholesterol esters. The distribution of 22:6 label in plasma 72 h after injection indicated that approximately 60% of the label was in phospholipids with approximately 40% in neutral lipids and less than 5% in free fatty acids.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptosomes / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phospholipids