Shift in phospholipid and fatty acid contents accompanies brain myelination

Biochimie. 2022 Dec:203:20-31. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2022.08.010. Epub 2022 Aug 30.


In the central nervous system, lipids represent approximately 70% of myelin dry weight and play a key role in axon insulation and action potential conduction velocity. Lipids may thus represent sensitive markers of myelin status in physiological and pathological contexts. In this study, a comprehensive lipidomic analysis by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry was performed on myelin-enriched fractions prepared from mouse brains. Two developmental stages were compared: an early rapid myelination stage (postnatal day 15, P15), and a late basal myelination stage (P40). Besides an expected enrichment in characteristic myelin lipids, our study revealed a profound remodeling in phospholipid subclasses during myelination. It included a dramatic decrease in phosphatidylcholine (PC) content and an increase in phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylinositol (PI) contents, concomitant to an increased proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) in these subclasses. Lipidomic results were supported by upregulated expression of genes involved in PE, PI, PS and MUFA synthesis in maturing O4+ oligodendrocytes. Highlighted lipid changes may represent key features of brain myelination that could be explored in the context of myelin pathologies.

Keywords: Brain development; Lipid; Lipidomics; Myelin; Oligodendrocyte.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Phospholipids* / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phospholipids