Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 401, Issue 1, pp 89–101 | Cite as

Distribution of lipids in human brain

  • Antonio Veloso
  • Roberto Fernández
  • Egoitz Astigarraga
  • Gabriel Barreda-Gómez
  • Iván Manuel
  • M. Teresa Giralt
  • Isidro Ferrer
  • Begoña Ochoa
  • Rafael Rodríguez-Puertas
  • José A. Fernández
Original Paper


The enormous abundance of lipid molecules in the central nervous system (CNS) suggests that their role is not limited to be structural and energetic components of cells. Over the last decades, some lipids in the CNS have been identified as intracellular signalers, while others are known to act as neuromodulators of neurotransmission through binding to specific receptors. Neurotransmitters of lipidic nature, currently known as neurolipids, are synthesized during the metabolism of phospholipid precursors present in cell membranes. Therefore, the anatomical identification of each of the different lipid species in human CNS by imaging mass spectrometry (IMS), in association with other biochemical techniques with spatial resolution, can increase our knowledge on the precise metabolic routes that synthesize these neurolipids and their localization. The present study shows the lipid distribution obtained by MALDI-TOF IMS in human frontal cortex, hippocampus, and striatal area, together with functional autoradiography of cannabinoid and LPA receptors. The combined application of these methods to postmortem human brain samples may be envisioned as critical to further understand neurological diseases, in general, and particularly, the neurodegeneration that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease.


Cannabinoid Lysophosphatidic acid MALDI-TOF Mercaptobenzothiazole Lipidomics Imaging mass spectrometry 









Central nervous system




G-protein coupled receptor


Imaging mass spectrometry


Lysophosphatidic acid


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization




Mass spectrometry






Principal component analysis








Probabilistic latent semantic analysis




Polyunsaturated fatty acids






Time of flight



This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (SAF2007-60211), the Basque Government (IT-325-07, IT-336-10, IT-440-10, S-PE10UN50 and SAI07/46) and Carlos III Health Institute (FIS PI070628). A. V. is recipient of a UPV/EHU graduate fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Veloso
    • 1
  • Roberto Fernández
    • 1
  • Egoitz Astigarraga
    • 1
  • Gabriel Barreda-Gómez
    • 2
  • Iván Manuel
    • 2
  • M. Teresa Giralt
    • 2
  • Isidro Ferrer
    • 4
  • Begoña Ochoa
    • 3
  • Rafael Rodríguez-Puertas
    • 2
  • José A. Fernández
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Physics, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of the Basque CountryLeioaSpain
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of the Basque CountryLeioaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Physiology; Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of the Basque CountryLeioaSpain
  4. 4.Institute of NeuropathologyIDIBELL, University Hospital Bellvitge, Hospitalet de LlobregatBarcelonaSpain

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