Uptake, cell penetration and metabolic processing of exogenously administered GM1 ganglioside in rat brain

Riccardo Ghidoni, Amelia Fiorilli, Marco Trinchera, Bruno Venerando, Vanna Chigorno, Guido Tettamanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GM1 ganglioside, after intravenous injection into rats, is absorbed and taken up by various organs and tissues, including brain. The capacity of brain to take up gangliosides, referred to weight unit, is comparable to that of kidney and muscle. After injection of [Gal-3H]GM1 a relevant portion of brain associated radioactivity resided in the soluble fraction and was of a volatile nature. After brain subcellular fractionation, the lysosomal, plasma membrane and Golgi apparatus fractions carried the highest specific radioactivity. In addition, an enriched fraction of brain capillaries was highly labelled, suggesting that GM1 ganglioside is also tightly bound to the vessel walls. The metabolic events encountered in brain by exogenous gangliosides were investigated, in detail, after intracisternal injection of [Sph-3H]GM1. The results obtained demonstrate that GM1 is extensively metabolized in brain. Besides the degradation products (GM2, GM3, lactosylceramide, glucosylceramide, ceramide), compounds of a biosynthetic origin were also found to be formed: these include GD1a, GD1b and sphingomyelin. All the above results could indicate that gangliosides, after intravenous administration to rats, are taken up by brain, bind to the capillary network, penetrate into neural cells, associate to both plasma membranes and intracellular structures and undergo metabolic processing with formation of a number of products of both catabolic and biosynthetic origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-465
Number of pages11
JournalNeurochemistry International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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