Lipid metabolism and storage in neuroglia: role in brain development and neurodegenerative diseases

Cell Biosci. 2022 Jul 12;12(1):106. doi: 10.1186/s13578-022-00828-0.


The importance of neuroglia in maintaining normal brain function under physiological and pathological conditions has been supported by growing evidence in recent years. The most important issues regarding glial metabolism and function include the cooperation between glial populations and neurons, morphological and functional changes in pathological states, and the role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Although lipid accumulation and further lipid droplet production in neurodegenerative disease brain models have been observed for a long time, the dynamic development of brain lipid droplet research in recent years suggests its role in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases was previously underestimated. First recognized as organelles of lipid storage, lipid droplets (LDs) have emerged as an important organelle in metabolic diseases, inflammation, and host defense. Dynamic changes in lipid metabolism within neurons and glial cells resulting in lipid accumulation and lipid droplet formation are present in brain models of various neurodegenerative diseases, yet their role in the brain remains largely unexplored. This paper first reviews the metabolism and accumulation of several major lipids in the brain and discusses the regulation of lipid accumulation in different types of brain cells. We explore the potential role of intracellular lipid accumulation in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration, starting from lipid metabolism and LDs biogenesis in glial cells, and discuss several pathological factors that promote lipid droplet formation, mainly focusing on oxidative stress, energy metabolism and glial cell-neuron coupling, which are closely related to the etiology and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, the directions and challenges of intracellular lipid metabolism in glial cells in neurodegeneration are discussed.

Keywords: Cholesterol; Fatty acids; Lipid droplets; Neurodegeneration; Neuroglia; Sphingolipids.

Publication types

  • Review