Distribution of glycosphingolipids in the serum lipoproteins of normal human subjects and patients with hypo- and hyperlipidemias

J Lipid Res. 1976 Mar;17(2):125-31.


Five glycosphingolipids (GSL), glucosylceramide, lactosylceramide, trihexosylceramide, globoside, and hematoside (GM3) were studied in serum from normal human subjects and patients with dyslipoproteinemia and found to be exclusively associated with the various classes of serum lipoproteins. Based on a unit weight of lipoprotein protein, the total amount of GSL in serum normal subjects was twice as high in very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) (d less than 1.006 g/ml) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) (d 1.019-1.063 g/ml) as in high density lipoproteins HDL2 (d 1.063-1.125 g/ml) or HDL3 (d 1.125-1.21 g/ml). In abetalipoproteinemia the levels of serum GSL were slightly reduced when compared to normal serum and were all found in the only existing lipoprotein, HDL; this contained 2-3 moles of GSL/ mole of lipoprotein as compared to 0.5 GSL/mole in normal HDL. In hypobetalipoproteinemia and Tangier disease, the serum glycosphingolipids were 10 to 30% reduced in concentration compared to the 75% reduction in other lipids, and were again found to be associated only with the serum lipoproteins. The relative proportions of GSL did not vary substantially in the normo- and hypolipidemic subjects studied. Only in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia was there a significant (3-4-fold) elevation of all of the five GSL species and this elevation of all of the five GSL species and this elevation correlated well with that of the circulating cholesterol and LDL. On a molar basis the LDL of these patients contained the same amount of GSL as normal subjects (5 moles GSL/mole protein). It is concluded that: (1) glycosphingolipids are associated only with the major lipoprotein classes in both normal and dyslipoproteinemic serum; (2) the relative proportions of the five glycosphingolipids are not significantly affected by dyslipoproteinemia; (3) only in severe hypolipoproteinemia do the remaining serum lipoproteins carry a complement of glycosphingolipids greater than normal. Although our results establish that glycosphingolipids are intimately associated with serum lipoproteins, the mode of association or the structural and functional significance of such an association remains undetermined.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abetalipoproteinemia / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glycosphingolipids / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / genetics
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood*
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / blood*
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / blood
  • Male
  • Sex Factors


  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL