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1.  Accumulation of N-Acylphosphatidylserines and N-Acylserines in the Frontal Cortex in Schizophrenia 
While schizophrenia is generally considered a neurodevelopment disorder, our basic understanding of the biochemical processes involved in disease etiology and/or progression is limited. One class of biochemical mediators that has been suggested to play a role in the development of schizophrenia is N-acyl ethanolamine metabolites of N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines. However, no investigations of N-acylphosphatidylserines or their N-acylserine metabolites have been published.
We undertook a targeted postmortem lipidomics analysis of N-acylphosphatidylserines (NAPS) and N-acylserines (NAS) in gray matter of the frontal cortex of schizophrenia subjects.
Our data are the first to demonstrate that NAPS and NAS are present in human brain. Furthermore, NAPS and their bioactive metabolites, N-acylserines (NAS), were found to be significantly elevated in the frontal cortex of schizophrenia subjects.
Elevated levels of NAPS lipid pools in schizophrenia may result in complex alterations in the structural function of neuronal membranes while increases in NAS may alter signal transduction pathways.
PMCID: PMC4479206  PMID: 26120595
schizophrenia; N-acylserines; N-acylphosphatidylserines; frontal cortex; lipidomics
2.  Mass Spectrometry Strategies for Clinical Metabolomics and Lipidomics in Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neuro-Oncology 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2013;39(1):24-33.
Metabolomics research has the potential to provide biomarkers for the detection of disease, for subtyping complex disease populations, for monitoring disease progression and therapy, and for defining new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention. These potentials are far from being realized because of a number of technical, conceptual, financial, and bioinformatics issues. Mass spectrometry provides analytical platforms that address the technical barriers to success in metabolomics research; however, the limited commercial availability of analytical and stable isotope standards has created a bottleneck for the absolute quantitation of a number of metabolites. Conceptual and financial factors contribute to the generation of statistically under-powered clinical studies, whereas bioinformatics issues result in the publication of a large number of unidentified metabolites. The path forward in this field involves targeted metabolomics analyses of large control and patient populations to define both the normal range of a defined metabolite and the potential heterogeneity (eg, bimodal) in complex patient populations. This approach requires that metabolomics research groups, in addition to developing a number of analytical platforms, build sufficient chemistry resources to supply the analytical standards required for absolute metabolite quantitation. Examples of metabolomics evaluations of sulfur amino-acid metabolism in psychiatry, neurology, and neuro-oncology and of lipidomics in neurology will be reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3857645  PMID: 23842599
Alzheimer's Disease; autism; Biological Psychiatry; glioblastoma; lipiodomics; metabolomics; Neurochemistry; Neurology; sulfur amino acids; metabolomics; autism; schizophrenia; glioblastoma; plasmalogens; sulfatides
3.  Neurodegeneration and aldehyde load: from concept to therapeutics 
PMCID: PMC1557683  PMID: 16951732
aldehyde load; aldehyde sequestering agents; Alzheimer's disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson's disease
4.  Lipidomics of Alzheimer's disease: current status 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a cognitive disorder with a number of complex neuropathologies, including, but not limited to, neurofibrillary tangles, neuritic plaques, neuronal shrinkage, hypomyelination, neuroinflammation and cholinergic dysfunction. The role of underlying pathological processes in the evolution of the cholinergic deficit responsible for cognitive decline has not been elucidated. Furthermore, generation of testable hypotheses for defining points of pharmacological intervention in AD are complicated by the large scale occurrence of older individuals dying with no cognitive impairment despite having a high burden of AD pathology (plaques and tangles). To further complicate these research challenges, there is no animal model that reproduces the combined hallmark neuropathologies of AD. These research limitations have stimulated the application of 'omics' technologies in AD research with the goals of defining biologic markers of disease and disease progression and uncovering potential points of pharmacological intervention for the design of AD therapeutics. In the case of sporadic AD, the dominant form of dementia, genomics has revealed that the ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E, a lipid transport/chaperone protein, is a susceptibility factor. This seminal observation points to the importance of lipid dynamics as an area of investigation in AD. In this regard, lipidomics studies have demonstrated that there are major deficits in brain structural glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids, as well as alterations in metabolites of these complex structural lipids, which act as signaling molecules. Peroxisomal dysfunction appears to be a key component of the changes in glycerophospholipid deficits. In this review, lipid alterations and their potential roles in the pathophysiology of AD are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3471525  PMID: 22293144
5.  Oral bioavailability of the ether lipid plasmalogen precursor, PPI-1011, in the rabbit: a new therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease 
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and DHA-containing ethanolamine plasmalogens (PlsEtn) are decreased in the brain, liver and the circulation in Alzheimer's disease. Decreased supply of plasmalogen precursors to the brain by the liver, as a result of peroxisomal deficits is a process that probably starts early in the AD disease process. To overcome this metabolic compromise, we have designed an orally bioavailable DHA-containing ether lipid precursor of plasmalogens. PPI-1011 is an alkyl-diacyl plasmalogen precursor with palmitic acid at sn-1, DHA at sn-2 and lipoic acid at sn-3. This study outlines the oral pharmacokinetics of this precursor and its conversion to PlsEtn and phosphatidylethanolamines (PtdEtn).
Rabbits were dosed orally with PPI-1011 in hard gelatin capsules for time-course and dose response studies. Incorporation into PlsEtn and PtdEtn was monitored by LC-MS/MS. Metabolism of released lipoic acid was monitored by GC-MS. To monitor the metabolic fate of different components of PPI-1011, we labeled the sn-1 palmitic acid, sn-2 DHA and glycerol backbone with13C and monitored their metabolic fates by LC-MS/MS.
PPI-1011 was not detected in plasma suggesting rapid release of sn-3 lipoic acid via gut lipases. This conclusion was supported by peak levels of lipoic acid metabolites in the plasma 3 hours after dosing. While PPI-1011 did not gain access to the plasma, it increased circulating levels of DHA-containing PlsEtn and PtdEtn. Labeling experiments demonstrated that the PtdEtn increases resulted from increased availability of DHA released via remodeling at sn-2 of phospholipids derived from PPI-1011. This release of DHA peaked at 6 hrs while increases in phospholipids peaked at 12 hr. Increases in circulating PlsEtn were more complex. Labeling experiments demonstrated that increases in the target PlsEtn, 16:0/22:6, consisted of 2 pools. In one pool, the intact precursor received a sn-3 phosphoethanolamine group and desaturation at sn-1 to generate the target plasmalogen. The second pool, like the PtdEtn, resulted from increased availability of DHA released during remodeling of sn-2. In the case of sn-1 18:0 and 18:1 plasmalogens with [13C3]DHA at sn-2, labeling was the result of increased availability of [13C3]DHA from lipid remodeling. Isotope and repeated dosing (2 weeks) experiments also demonstrated that plasmalogens and/or plasmalogen precursors derived from PPI-1011 are able to cross both the blood-retinal and blood-brain barriers.
Our data demonstrate that PPI-1011, an ether lipid precursor of plasmalogens is orally bioavailable in the rabbit, augmenting the circulating levels of unesterified DHA and DHA-containing PlsEtn and PtdEtn. Other ethanolamine plasmalogens were generated from the precursor via lipid remodeling (de-acylation/re-acylation reactions at sn-2) and phosphatidylethanolamines were generated via de-alkylation/re-acylation reactions at sn-1. Repeated oral dosing for 2 weeks with PPI-1011 resulted in dose-dependent increases in circulating DHA and DHA-containing plasmalogens. These products and/or precursors were also able to cross the blood-retinal and blood-brain barriers.
PMCID: PMC3260122  PMID: 22142382
6.  Cellular diamine levels in cancer chemoprevention: modulation by ibuprofen and membrane plasmalogens 
To develop effective strategies in cancer chemoprevention, an increased understanding of endogenous biochemical mediators that block metastatic processes is critically needed. Dietary lipids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a published track record of providing protection against gastrointestinal malignancies. In this regard, we examined the effects of membrane plasmalogens and ibuprofen on regulation of cellular levels of diamines, polyamine mediators that are augmented in cancer cells. For these studies we utilized Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and NRel-4 cells, a CHO cell line with defective plasmalogen synthesis.
NRel-4 cells, which possess cellular plasmalogen levels that are 10% of control CHO cells, demonstrated 2- to 3-fold increases in cellular diamine levels. These diamine levels were normalized by plasmalogen replacement and significantly reduced by ibuprofen. In both cases the mechanism of action appears to mainly involve increased diamine efflux via the diamine exporter. The actions of ibuprofen were not stereospecific, supporting previous studies that cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition is unlikely to be involved in the ability of NSAIDs to reduce intracellular diamine levels.
Our data demonstrate that ibuprofen, a drug known to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, reduces cellular diamine levels via augmentation of diamine efflux. Similarly, augmentation of membrane plasmalogens can increase diamine export from control and plasmalogen-deficient cells. These data support the concept that membrane transporter function may be a therapeutic point of intervention for dietary and pharmacological approaches to cancer chemoprevention.
PMCID: PMC3231815  PMID: 22087745
CHO; NRel-4; ibuprofen; plasmalogens; omega-3 fatty acids; PPI-1011; putrescine; cadaverine; diamine exporter; ornithine decarboxylase; cancer chemoprevention
7.  In vitro and in vivo plasmalogen replacement evaluations in rhizomelic chrondrodysplasia punctata and Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease using PPI-1011, an ether lipid plasmalogen precursor 
Childhood peroxisomal disorders and leukodystrophies are devastating diseases characterized by dysfunctional lipid metabolism. Plasmalogens (ether glycerophosphoethanolamine lipids) are decreased in these genetic disorders. The biosynthesis of plasmalogens is initiated in peroxisomes but completed in the endoplasmic reticulum. We therefore undertook a study to evaluate the ability of a 3-substituted, 1-alkyl, 2-acyl glyceryl ether lipid (PPI-1011) to replace plasmalogens in rhizomelic chrondrodysplasia punctata type 1 (RCDP1) and rhizomelic chrondrodysplasia punctata type 2 (RCDP2) lymphocytes which possess peroxisomal mutations culminating in deficient plasmalogen synthesis. We also examined plasmalogen synthesis in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) lymphocytes which possess a proteolipid protein-1 (PLP1) missense mutation that results in abnormal PLP1 folding and it's accumulation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the cellular site of the last steps in plasmalogen synthesis. In vivo incorporation of plasmalogen precursor into tissue plasmalogens was also evaluated in the Pex7 mouse model of plasmalogen deficiency.
In both RCDP1 and RCDP2 lymphocytes, PPI-1011 repleted the target ethanolamine plasmalogen (PlsEtn16:0/22:6) in a concentration dependent manner. In addition, deacylation/reacylation reactions resulted in repletion of PlsEtn 16:0/20:4 in both RCDP1 and RCDP2 lymphocytes, repletion of PlsEtn 16:0/18:1 and PlsEtn 16:0/18:2 in RCDP2 lymphocytes, and partial repletion of PlsEtn 16:0/18:1 and PlsEtn 16:0/18:2 in RCDP1 lymphocytes. In the Pex7 mouse, oral dosing of labeled PPI-1011 demonstrated repletion of tissue levels of the target plasmalogen PlsEtn 16:0/22:6 with phospholipid remodeling also resulting in significant repletion of PlsEtn 16:0/20:4 and PlsEtn 16:0/18:1. Metabolic conversion of PPI-1011 to the target plasmalogen was most active in the liver.
Our data demonstrate that PPI-1011 is activated (removal of 3-substitution) and converted to PlsEtn in vitro in both RCDP1 and RCDP2 lymphocytes and in vivo in the Pex7 mouse model of RCPD1 effectively bypassing the peroxisomal dysfunction present in these disorders. While PPI-1011 was shown to replete PlsEtns 16:0/x, ether lipid precursors of PlsEtn 18:0/x and PlsEtn 18:1/x may also be needed to achieve optimal clinical benefits of plasmalogen replacement in these complex patient populations. In contrast, only limited plasmalogen replacement was observed in PMD lymphocytes suggesting that the effects of protein misfolding and accumulation in the ER negatively affect processing of plasmalogen precursors in this cellular compartment.
PMCID: PMC3238230  PMID: 22008564
Rhizomelic chrondrodysplasia punctata type 1; Rhizomelic chrondrodysplasia punctata type 2; Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease; Pex7 mouse; lymphocytes; plasmalogen precursor; DHA; peroxisomal disorders; PPI-1011
8.  Targeted metabolomic analyses of cellular models of pelizaeus-merzbacher disease reveal plasmalogen and myo-inositol solute carrier dysfunction 
Leukodystrophies are devastating diseases characterized by dys- and hypo-myelination. While there are a number of histological and imaging studies of these disorders, there are limited biochemical data available. We undertook targeted lipidomic analyses of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) fibroblasts, PMD lymphocytes, and 158JP oligodendrocytes, a murine model of PMD, to define the lipid changes in these cell models. Further targeted metabolomics analyses were conducted to obtain a preliminary evaluation of the metabolic consequences of lipid changes and gene mutations in these cell models.
In both PMD fibroblasts and lymphocytes, and 158JP oligodendrocytes, ethanolamine plasmalogens were significantly decreased. Labeling studies with 158JP oligodendrocytes further demonstrated a decreased rate of lipid remodeling at sn-2. Targeted metabolomics analyses of these cells revealed dramatic increases in cellular levels of myo-inositol. Further uptake studies demonstrated increased rates of myo-inositol uptake by PMD lymphocytes.
Our data demonstrating PlsEtn decrements, support previous studies indicating leukodystrophy cells possess significant peroxisomal deficits. Our data for the first time also demonstrate that decrements in peroxisomal function coupled with the PLP1 gene defects of PMD, result in changes in the function of membrane myo-inositol solute carriers resulting in dramatic increases in cellular myo-inositol levels.
PMCID: PMC3141545  PMID: 21682894
leukodystrophy; Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease; fibroblasts; lymphocytes; 158JP oligodendrocytes; plasmalogens; myo-inositol transporter; peroxisomal disorders
9.  Membrane plasmalogen composition and cellular cholesterol regulation: a structure activity study 
Disrupted cholesterol regulation leading to increased circulating and membrane cholesterol levels is implicated in many age-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and cancer. In vitro and ex vivo cellular plasmalogen deficiency models have been shown to exhibit impaired intra- and extra-cellular processing of cholesterol. Furthermore, depleted brain plasmalogens have been implicated in AD and serum plasmalogen deficiencies have been linked to AD, CVD, and cancer.
Using plasmalogen deficient (NRel-4) and plasmalogen sufficient (HEK293) cells we investigated the effect of species-dependent plasmalogen restoration/augmentation on membrane cholesterol processing. The results of these studies indicate that the esterification of cholesterol is dependent upon the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)-containing ethanolamine plasmalogen (PlsEtn) present in the membrane. We further elucidate that the concentration-dependent increase in esterified cholesterol observed with PUFA-PlsEtn was due to a concentration-dependent increase in sterol-O-acyltransferase-1 (SOAT1) levels, an observation not reproduced by 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibition.
The present study describes a novel mechanism of cholesterol regulation that is consistent with clinical and epidemiological studies of cholesterol, aging and disease. Specifically, the present study describes how selective membrane PUFA-PlsEtn enhancement can be achieved using 1-alkyl-2-PUFA glycerols and through this action reduce levels of total and free cholesterol in cells.
PMCID: PMC2902472  PMID: 20546600
10.  Reduced levels of hydroxylated, polyunsaturated ultra long-chain fatty acids in the serum of colorectal cancer patients: implications for early screening and detection 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:13.
There are currently no accurate serum markers for detecting early risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). We therefore developed a non-targeted metabolomics technology to analyse the serum of pre-treatment CRC patients in order to discover putative metabolic markers associated with CRC. Using tandem-mass spectrometry (MS/MS) high throughput MS technology we evaluated the utility of selected markers and this technology for discriminating between CRC and healthy subjects.
Biomarker discovery was performed using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS). Comprehensive metabolic profiles of CRC patients and controls from three independent populations from different continents (USA and Japan; total n = 222) were obtained and the best inter-study biomarkers determined. The structural characterization of these and related markers was performed using liquid chromatography (LC) MS/MS and nuclear magnetic resonance technologies. Clinical utility evaluations were performed using a targeted high-throughput triple-quadrupole multiple reaction monitoring (TQ-MRM) method for three biomarkers in two further independent populations from the USA and Japan (total n = 220).
Comprehensive metabolomic analyses revealed significantly reduced levels of 28-36 carbon-containing hydroxylated polyunsaturated ultra long-chain fatty-acids in all three independent cohorts of CRC patient samples relative to controls. Structure elucidation studies on the C28 molecules revealed two families harbouring specifically two or three hydroxyl substitutions and varying degrees of unsaturation. The TQ-MRM method successfully validated the FTICR-MS results in two further independent studies. In total, biomarkers in five independent populations across two continental regions were evaluated (three populations by FTICR-MS and two by TQ-MRM). The resultant receiver-operator characteristic curve AUCs ranged from 0.85 to 0.98 (average = 0.91 ± 0.04).
A novel comprehensive metabolomics technology was used to identify a systemic metabolic dysregulation comprising previously unknown hydroxylated polyunsaturated ultra-long chain fatty acid metabolites in CRC patients. These metabolites are easily measurable in serum and a decrease in their concentration appears to be highly sensitive and specific for the presence of CRC, regardless of ethnic or geographic background. The measurement of these metabolites may represent an additional tool for the early detection and screening of CRC.
PMCID: PMC2833138  PMID: 20156336
11.  Circulating plasmalogen levels and Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive scores in Alzheimer patients 
Plasmalogens, which are key structural phospholipids in brain membranes, are decreased in the brain and serum of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD). We performed this pilot study to evaluate the relation between the levels of circulating plasmalogens and Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive (ADAS-Cog) scores in patients with AD.
We evaluated participants’ ADAS-Cog scores and serum plasmalogen levels. For the 40 included AD patients with an ADAS-Cog score between 20 and 46, we retested their ADAS-Cog score 1 year later. The levels of docosahexaenoic acid plasmalogen were measured by use of liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry.
We found that the ADAS-Cog score increased significantly in AD patients with circulating plasmalogen levels that were ≤ 75% of that of age-matched controls at entry into the study. There was no change in score among participants with normal serum plasmalogen levels at baseline (> 75%).
This was a pilot study with 40 patients, and the results require validation in a larger population.
Our study demonstrates that decreased levels of plasmalogen precursors in the central nervous system correlate with functional decline (as measured by ADAS-Cog scores) in AD patients. The use of both ADAS-Cog and serum plasmalogen data may be a more accurate way of predicting cognitive decline in AD patients, and may be used to decrease the risk of including patients with no cognitive decline in the placebo arm of a drug trial.
PMCID: PMC2799506  PMID: 20040248

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