J. Neurochem. (2011) 116, 813–819.
Phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) are essential enzymes in cells. They are not only responsible for maintaining the structural organization of cell membranes, but also play a pivotal role in the regulation of cell functions. Activation of PLA2s results in the release of fatty acids and lysophospholipids, products that are lipid mediators and compounds capable of altering membrane microdomains and physical properties. Although not fully understood, recent studies have linked aberrant PLA2 activity to oxidative signaling pathways involving NADPH oxidase that underlie the pathophysiology of a number of neurodegenerative diseases. In this paper, we review studies describing the involvement of cytosolic PLA2 in oxidative signaling pathways leading to neuronal impairment and activation of glial cell inflammatory responses. In addition, this review also includes information on the role of cytosolic PLA2 and exogenous secretory PLA2 on membrane physical properties, dynamics, and membrane proteins. Unraveling the mechanisms that regulate specific types of PLA2s and their effects on membrane dynamics are important prerequisites towards understanding their roles in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, and in the development of novel therapeutics to retard progression of the disease.