Age-related changes in the ceramide composition of the major gangliosides present in rat brain subcellular fractions enriched in plasma membranes of neuronal and myelin origin

P. Palestini, M. Masserini, A. Fiorilli, E. Calappi, G. Tettamanti

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Age-related changes of the ceramide composition of gangliosides were studied in the synaptosomal and myelin fractions from rat brain, carrying plasma membranes of neuronal and glial origin, respectively. The five major gangliosides (GM1, GD1a, GD1b, GT1b, and GQ1b) present in these fractions were separated and quantitated by normal-phase HPLC. Each ganglioside was then fractionated by reverse-phase HPLC into the molecular species carrying a single long-chain base (LCB). The largely preponderant LCBs in the synaptosomal and myelin fractions were the C18:1 and C20:1. The content of C20:1 LCB, generally low at 1 month, increased with age in all analyzed gangliosides and in all subcellular fractions and was greater in the 'b series' than in the 'a series' gangliosides. Remarkably, GM1 was the only ganglioside where the proportion of LCB 20:1 was higher in the synaptosomal fraction than in the myelin fraction. The fatty acid composition of the C18:1 or C20:1 LCB species of the different gangliosides in the synaptosomal and myelin fractions did not undergo appreciable changes with age. Stearic acid was largely predominant in all the gangliosides of the synaptosomal fraction, more in the C18:1 than in the C20:1 LCB species (80-90% vs 60-70%). The gangliosides of the myelin fraction were characterized by a lower content of 18:0 and a much higher content of 16:0 and 18:1 fatty acids than those of the synaptosomal fraction. Thus, the ceramide composition is different in the gangliosides of neuronal and myelin origin and appears to be subjected to an age-related control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-960
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1993



  • Aging
  • Brain subcellular fractions
  • Fatty acid
  • Ganglioside
  • Long-chain base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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