Neurochemical Research

, Volume 9, Issue 11, pp 1615–1626 | Cite as

Myelin development in infant brain

  • Shirley E. Poduslo
  • Yong Jang
Original Articles


Myelin was isolated from subcortical areas of ten human brains, with ages ranging from 24 days to 350 days-of-age; samples were subsequently analyzed for lipid composition. Eight infants were victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and two infants were accident cases. Gray and white matter samples from each brain were also dissected and analyzed. Galactolipids were only 12% of the total lipids in white matter from brains of infants that were 24 days-of-age, a time when myelination was just starting in the subcortical areas. At 175 and 350 days of age, myelination was well underway and galactolipids measured 22% of the total lipids. Total phospholipids decreased (65% to 54%) in white matter during development, with the decrease mostly in phosphatidylcholine (23% to 15%). Even though there was little white matter present at early ages, myelin could be isolated. Surprisingly, the lipid composition of myelin, from the 24-day-infant brain was similar to that from adult brain. Galactolipids were 22% of the total lipids, cholesterol, 23%, and phospholipids, 52%. These results suggest that only subtle remodeling of myelin occurs in humans once myelination commences. All four major gangliosides were present in myelin during this first year of development. Interestingly, the yield of myelin from the 350-day-old infant subcortical white matter was similar to that from an adult. Thus major tracts in this area may have acquired most of the myelin by one year-after-birth. Since the control samples blend quite well into the developmental pattern obtained, it is believed there are no abnormalities in myelin lipids from SIDS infants.


Lipid Cholesterol White Matter Total Lipid Phosphatidylcholine 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shirley E. Poduslo
    • 1
  • Yong Jang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine, Meyer 6-119 Department of NeurologyThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore

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