Membrane Lipid Composition: Effect on Membrane and Organelle Structure, Function and Compartmentalization and Therapeutic Avenues

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 May 1;20(9):2167. doi: 10.3390/ijms20092167.


Biological membranes are key elements for the maintenance of cell architecture and physiology. Beyond a pure barrier separating the inner space of the cell from the outer, the plasma membrane is a scaffold and player in cell-to-cell communication and the initiation of intracellular signals among other functions. Critical to this function is the plasma membrane compartmentalization in lipid microdomains that control the localization and productive interactions of proteins involved in cell signal propagation. In addition, cells are divided into compartments limited by other membranes whose integrity and homeostasis are finely controlled, and which determine the identity and function of the different organelles. Here, we review current knowledge on membrane lipid composition in the plasma membrane and endomembrane compartments, emphasizing its role in sustaining organelle structure and function. The correct composition and structure of cell membranes define key pathophysiological aspects of cells. Therefore, we explore the therapeutic potential of manipulating membrane lipid composition with approaches like membrane lipid therapy, aiming to normalize cell functions through the modification of membrane lipid bilayers.

Keywords: 2OHOA; composition; endomembrane; lipid; membrane; structure; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Membrane Lipids