Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in grey and white matter regions of the brain metabolize fatty acids

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 7;7(1):10779. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11103-5.


The grey and white matter regions of the mammalian brain consist of both neurons and neuroglial cells. Among the neuroglia, the two macroglia oligodendrocytes and astrocytes are the most abundant cell types. While the major function of oligodendrocytes is the formation of the lipid-rich myelin structure, the heterogeneous group of astrocytes fulfils a multitude of important roles in cerebral development and homeostasis. Brain lipid homeostasis involves the synthesis of a specific cerebral lipidome by local lipid metabolism. In this study we have investigated the fatty acid uptake and lipid biosynthesis in grey and white matter regions of the murine brain. Key findings were: (i) white matter oligodendrocytes and astrocytes take up saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, (ii) different grey matter regions show varying lipid labelling intensities, (iii) the medial habenula, an epithalamic grey matter structure, and the oligodendrocytes and astrocytes therein are targeted by fatty acids, and (iv) in the medial habenula, the neutral lipid containing lipid droplets are found in cells facing the ventricle but undetectable in the habenular parenchyma. Our data indicate a role for oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in local lipid metabolism of white and grey matter regions in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Click Chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gray Matter / drug effects
  • Gray Matter / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lipid Metabolism* / drug effects
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Mice
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Tamoxifen / administration & dosage
  • White Matter / drug effects
  • White Matter / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids
  • Tamoxifen