Membrane raft domains and remodeling in aging brain

Biochimie. 2016 Nov;130:178-187. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2016.08.014. Epub 2016 Sep 1.


Lipids are the fundamental structural components of biological membranes. For a long time considered as simple barriers segregating aqueous compartments, membranes are now viewed as dynamic interfaces providing a molecular environment favorable to the activity of membrane-associated proteins. Interestingly, variations in membrane lipid composition, whether quantitative or qualitative, play a crucial role in regulation of membrane protein functionalities. Indeed, a variety of alterations in brain lipid composition have been associated with the processes of normal and pathological aging. Although not establishing a direct cause-and-effect relationship between these complex modifications in cerebral membranes and the process of cognitive decline, evidence shows that alterations in membrane lipid composition affect important physicochemical properties notably impacting the lateral organization of membranes, and thus microdomains. It has been suggested that preservation of microdomain functionality may represent an effective strategy for preventing or decelerating neuronal dysfunction and cerebral vulnerability, processes that are both aggravated by aging. The working hypothesis developed in this review proposes that preservation of membrane organization, for example, through nutritional supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid, could prevent disturbances in and preserve effective cerebral function.

Keywords: Aging; Docosahexaenoic acid; Lipid rafts; Membrane remodeling; Neuronal membrane; Omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membrane Microdomains / chemistry
  • Membrane Microdomains / drug effects
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids