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Membrane Lipids of Adult Human Brain: Lipid Composition of Frontal and Temporal Lobe in Subjects of Age 20 to 100 Years


Address correspondence and reprints requests to Prof. L. Svennerholm at Klinisk Neurokemiska Laboratoriet, Mölndals Sjukhus, 431 80 Mölndal, Sweden.


Abstract: The membrane lipid composition of human frontal and temporal cortices and white matter has been studied in 118 subjects, age 20–100 years. The brain specimens were selected from subjects who lived a normal social life and died suddenly and unexpectedly with no history of neurologic or psychiatric disease. Macroscopic and microscopic examinations ruled out any signs of organic brain disorder. The sudden death eliminated all risk of changes over a long agonal stage. The data for total solids and major lipids are summarized in graphic form. Total solids, phospholipids, and cholesterol diminished linearly from 20 years of age in frontal and temporal cortices, whereas total solids phospholipids, cholesterol, cerebroside, and sulfatide showed a curvilinear diminution in frontal and temporal white matter. Gangliosides differed from the other lipids, showing an almost constant concentration between 20 and 70 years of age with a slight peak around 50 years of age. The ganglioside pattern showed continuous change with aging, with decreasing proportions of GM1 and GD1a and increasing proportions of GD1b, GM3, and GD3. Equations are given that can be used to calculate the lipid composition of normal human frontal and temporal cortices and white matter at any age between 20 and 100 years of age. These data can be used where data by direct analysis are not available for comparison with values for various pathological states.