Exogenous gangliosides, neuronal plasticity and repair, and the neurotrophins
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- Mocchetti, I. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2005) 62: 2283. doi:10.1007/s00018-005-5188-y
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Gangliosides, a heterogeneous family of glycosphingolipids abundant in the brain, have been shown to affect neuronal plasticity during development, adulthood and aging. This review will examine old and recent evidence that exogenous gangliosides and in particular GM1, the prototype member of this family, exhibit multimodal neurotrophic effects. Since these compounds are a potential therapeutic tool for the treatment of various forms of acute or chronic neurodegenerative diseases, understanding the dynamic interplay of gangliosides and neuronal cells is essential in the effort to cure neurological disorders. Focus will be given to the novel and provocative hypothesis that gangliosides’ neuroprotective properties may derive from their ability to mimic endogenous neurotrophic factors.