Distribution and fatty acid composition of phosphoglycerides in normal human brain

J Lipid Res. 1968 Sep;9(5):570-9.


A thin-layer chromatographic procedure for the isolation of tissue phospholipids and their subsequent analysis is described. The method has been applied to the determination of the fatty acids of phosphoglycerides in human brain from the early fetal stage to old age. The study shows changes in the distribution and fatty acid composition of each phosphoglyceride in normal brain, although they are quite small after early childhood. A lipid-specific fatty acid pattern for each of the four major phosphoglycerides was found. Besides this, the pronounced differences between fatty acids of the lipids from the cerebral cortex and from the adjacent white matter justify speaking of a tissue-specific fatty acid pattern for brain phosphoglycerides. The phospholipids of cerebral white matter contained more monoenoic acid but much less polyunsaturated fatty acid than those of cerebral cortex. The brain phosphoglycerides also showed an age-dependent fatty acid pattern. With increasing age the concentration of the fatty acids of the linoleate family diminished while that of the linolenate family increased. Brain inositol phosphoglycerides, the fatty acid composition of which has not been studied systematically before, were characterized by a large concentration of arachidonate which was nearly as high for white as for gray matter and showed only small changes with age.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebrosides / metabolism
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glycerophosphates / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*


  • Cerebrosides
  • Fatty Acids
  • Glycerophosphates
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Phospholipids