Lipids in Alzheimer’s Disease Brain

  • D. A. Butterfield
  • H. M. Abdul


Lipids are important biological molecules. The lipids of physiological importance for humans have four major functions: (1) structural components of biological membranes; (2) energy reserves, predominantly in the form of triacylglycerols; (3) both lipids and lipid derivatives serve as vitamins and hormones, and (4) lipophilic bile acids aid in lipid solubilization. Fatty acids fill two major roles in the body: as the components of more complex membrane lipids and as the major components of stored fat in the form of triacylglycerols. Alterations in lipid structure and/or metabolism lead to many neurodegenerative diseases, among which Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is of great concern due to the increasing life-span of the world’s population. Additionally, altered cholesterol metabolism, modulation in phospholipid content, and phospholipid asymmetry in plasma membranes may play pivotal role in the progression of AD. Amyloid β-peptide [Aβ (1–42)] plays a central role in the pathogenesis of AD. Aβ (1–42) is heavily deposited in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, and free radical oxidative stress of neuronal lipids is extensive. Research by our group and others suggests that this observation is linked to Aβ-induced oxidative stress in AD brain. This chapter summarizes current knowledge on lipid alterations in AD brain, one potential cause of the external oxidative stress in AD brain, and the consequences of Aβ-induced lipid peroxidation in this neurodegenerative disorder.


Lipid Peroxidation Mild Cognitive Impairment Lipid Raft Phosphatidic Acid PLA2 Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


Alzheimer’s disease


amyloid beta-peptide










glycosphingolipid-enriched membranes


red blood cells


inducible nitric oxide synthase






Ca2+ -dependent secretory phospholipase A2;  cPLA2, Ca2+ -dependent cytosolic phospholipase A2


Ca2+ -independent phospholipase A2








β-amyloid precursor protein


thiobarbituric acid reactive substances












neurofibrillary tangles


senile plaques


ferulic acid ethyl ester


mild cognitive impairment


reactive oxygen species


reactive nitrogen species



This work was supported, in part, by NIH (NIA) grants to D. A. B.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. Butterfield
  • H. M. Abdul

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