Roles for dysfunctional sphingolipid metabolism in Alzheimer's disease neuropathogenesis

Norman J. Haughey, Veera Venkata R Bandaru, Mihyun Bae, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Sphingolipids in the membranes of neurons play important roles in signal transduction, either by modulating the localization and activation of membrane-associated receptors or by acting as precursors of bioactive lipid mediators. Activation of cytokine and neurotrophic factor receptors coupled to sphingomyelinases results in the generation of ceramides and gangliosides, which in turn, modify the structural and functional plasticity of neurons. In aging and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), there are increased membrane-associated oxidative stress and excessive production and accumulation of ceramides. Studies of brain tissue samples from human subjects, and of experimental models of the diseases, suggest that perturbed sphingomyelin metabolism is a pivotal event in the dysfunction and degeneration of neurons that occurs in AD and HIV dementia. Dietary and pharmacological interventions that target sphingolipid metabolism should be pursued for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-886
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Ceramide
  • Ganglioside
  • Sphingomylein
  • Sphingosine
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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