Plasmalogens are a class of phospholipids carrying a vinyl ether bond in sn-1 and an ester bond in sn-2 position of the glycerol backbone. Although they are widespread in all tissues and represent up to 18% of the total phospholipid mass in humans, their physiological function is still poorly understood. The aim of this review is to give an overview over the current knowledge in plasmalogen biology and pathology with an emphasis on neglected aspects of their involvement in neurological and metabolic diseases. Furthermore a better understanding of plasmalogen biology in health and disease could also lead to the development of better diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for vascular and metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes mellitus, inflammation, neuro-degeneration and cancer.
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