Glycosphingolipid analysis in a naturally occurring ovine model of acute neuronopathic Gaucher disease

Neurobiol Dis. 2016 Jul:91:143-54. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 Mar 11.


Gaucher disease arises from mutations in the β-glucocerebrosidase gene which encodes an enzyme required for the lysosomal catabolism of glucosylceramide. We have identified a naturally occurring mutation in the β-glucocerebrosidase gene in sheep that leads to Gaucher disease with acute neurological symptoms. Here we have examined the clinical phenotype at birth and subsequently quantified lipids in Gaucher lamb brain, in order to characterise the disorder. Enzyme activity assessments showed that a reduction in β-glucocerebrosidase activity to 1-5% of wild-type occurs consistently across newborn Gaucher lamb brain regions. We analyzed glucosylceramide, glucosylsphingosine, bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate and ganglioside profiles in brain, liver, and spleen, and observed 30- to 130-fold higher glucosylceramide, and 500- to 2000-fold higher glucosylsphingosine concentrations in Gaucher diseased lambs compared to wild-type. Significant increases of bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate and gangliosides [GM1, GM2, GM3] concentrations were also detected in the brain. As these glycosphingolipids are involved in many cellular events, an imbalance or disruption of the cell membrane lipid homeostasis would be expected to impair normal neuronal function. To our knowledge, this is the first detailed analysis of glycosphingolipids in various brain regions in a large animal model of neuronal disease, which permits the mechanistic investigation of lipid deregulation and their contribution to neurodegenerative process.

Keywords: Gangliosides; Glucocerebrosidase; Glucosylceramide; Lipid metabolism; Sheep model; Sphingolipids.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gaucher Disease / metabolism*
  • Glucosylceramides / metabolism*
  • Glycosphingolipids / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Sheep
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Glucosylceramides
  • Glycosphingolipids