Docosahexaenoic acid-containing phospholipid molecular species in brains of vertebrates

Tibor Farkas, Klara Kitajka, Elfrieda Fodor, István Csengeri, Eila Landes, Young K. Yeo, Zoltán Krasznai, John E. Halver

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The fatty acid composition of phospholipids and the contents of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-containing diacyl phosphatidylcholine and diacyl phosphatidylethanolamine molecular species were determined from brains of five fresh-water fish species from a boreal region adapted to 5°C, five fresh-water fish species from a temperate region acclimated to 5°C, five fresh-water fish species from a temperate region acclimated to 20°C, and three fresh water fish species from a subtropic region adapted to 25-26°C, as well as six mammalian species and seven bird species. There was little difference in DHA levels of fish brains from the different thermal environments; mammalian and bird brain phospholipids contained a few percentage points less DHA than those of the fish investigated. Molecular species of 22:6/22:6, 22:6/20:5, 22:6/20:4, 16:0/22:6, 18:0/22:6, and 18:1/22:6 were identified from all brain probes, and 16:0/22:6, 18:0/22:6, and 18:1/22:6 were the dominating species. Cold-water fish brains were rich in 18:1/22:6 diacyl phosphatidylethanolamine (and, to a lesser degree, in diacyl phosphatidylcholine), and its level decreased with increasing environmental/body temperature. The ratio of 18:0/22:6 to 16:0/22:6 phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine was inversely related to body temperature. Phospholipid vesicles from brains of cold-acclimated fish were more fluid, as assessed by using a 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene fluorescent probe, than those from bird brains, but the fluidities were almost equal at the respective body temperatures. It is concluded that the relative amounts of these molecular species and their ratios to each other are the major factors contributing to the maintenance of proper fluidity relationships throughout the evolutionary chain as well as helping to maintain important brain functions such as signal transduction and membrane permeability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6362-6366
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 6 2000


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