Brain sweet brain: importance of sugars for the cerebral microenvironment and tumor development

Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2010 Oct;68(5):799-803. doi: 10.1590/s0004-282x2010000500024.


The extracellular matrix (ECM) in the brain tissue is a complex network of glycoproteins and proteoglycans that fills the intercellular space serving as scaffolding to provide structural framework for the tissue and regulate the behavior of cells via specific receptors - integrins. There is enormous structural diversity among proteoglycans due to variation in the core protein, the number of glycosaminoglycans chains, the extent and position of sulfation. The lectican family of proteoglycans interacts with growth factors, hyaluronan and tenascin forming a complex structure that regulates neuronal plasticity and ion homeostasis around highly active neurons. In this review, we will discuss the latest insights into the roles of brain glycoproteins as modulators of cell adhesion, migration, neurite outgrowth and glial tumor invasion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Glioma / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neuronal Plasticity


  • Glycoproteins
  • Glycosaminoglycans