The cellular functions of lipids in the neuronal plasma membranes have been increasingly acknowledged, particularly their association to neuronal processes and synaptic plasticity. However, the knowledge of their regulatory mechanisms in neuronal cells remains sparse. To address this, we investigated the lipid organization of the plasma membranes of hippocampal neurons in relation to neuronal activity using secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging. The neurons were treated with drugs, particularly tetrodotoxin (TTX) and bicuculline (BIC), to induce chronic activation and silencing. Distinct lipid organization was found in the plasma membrane of the cell body and the neurites. Moreover, significant alterations of the levels of the membrane lipids, especially ceramides, phosphatidylserines, phosphatidic acids, and triacylglycerols, were observed under the TTX and BIC treatments. We suggest that many types of membrane lipids are affected by, and may be involved in, the regulation of neuronal function.
Keywords: ToF-SIMS; lipids; mass spectrometry imaging; membranes; neurons.