Lysophospholipids and their receptors in the central nervous system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jan;1831(1):20-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2012.07.015. Epub 2012 Jul 31.


Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), two of the best-studied lysophospholipids, are known to influence diverse biological events, including organismal development as well as function and pathogenesis within multiple organ systems. These functional roles are due to a family of at least 11 G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), named LPA(1-6) and S1P(1-5), which are widely distributed throughout the body and that activate multiple effector pathways initiated by a range of heterotrimeric G proteins including G(i/o), G(12/13), G(q) and G(s), with actual activation dependent on receptor subtypes. In the central nervous system (CNS), a major locus for these signaling pathways, LPA and S1P have been shown to influence myriad responses in neurons and glial cell types through their cognate receptors. These receptor-mediated activities can contribute to disease pathogenesis and have therapeutic relevance to human CNS disorders as demonstrated for multiple sclerosis (MS) and possibly others that include congenital hydrocephalus, ischemic stroke, neurotrauma, neuropsychiatric disorders, developmental disorders, seizures, hearing loss, and Sandhoff disease, based upon the experimental literature. In particular, FTY720 (fingolimod, Gilenya, Novartis Pharma, AG) that becomes an analog of S1P upon phosphorylation, was approved by the FDA in 2010 as a first oral treatment for MS, validating this class of receptors as medicinal targets. This review will provide an overview and update on the biological functions of LPA and S1P signaling in the CNS, with a focus on results from studies using genetic null mutants for LPA and S1P receptors. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Advances in Lysophospholipid Research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Receptors, Lysophospholipid / classification
  • Receptors, Lysophospholipid / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Lysosphingolipid / metabolism


  • Lysophospholipids
  • Receptors, Lysophospholipid
  • Receptors, Lysosphingolipid