Lipid metabolic pathways converge in motor neuron degenerative diseases

Brain. 2020 Apr 1;143(4):1073-1087. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz382.


Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) encompass an extensive and heterogeneous group of upper and/or lower motor neuron degenerative disorders, in which the particular clinical outcomes stem from the specific neuronal component involved in each condition. While mutations in a large number of molecules associated with lipid metabolism are known to be implicated in MNDs, there remains a lack of clarity regarding the key functional pathways involved, and their inter-relationships. This review highlights evidence that defines defects within two specific lipid (cholesterol/oxysterol and phosphatidylethanolamine) biosynthetic cascades as being centrally involved in MND, particularly hereditary spastic paraplegia. We also identify how other MND-associated molecules may impact these cascades, in particular through impaired organellar interfacing, to propose 'subcellular lipidome imbalance' as a likely common pathomolecular theme in MND. Further exploration of this mechanism has the potential to identify new therapeutic targets and management strategies for modulation of disease progression in hereditary spastic paraplegias and other MNDs.

Keywords: HSP; MND; cholesterol; lipidome imbalance; mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology