Lipid changes identified in regions affected by aging

A new study led by IRBLleida has shown that some brain regions especially involved in memory are the most affected by aging

Fatty acids are key components in the structural diversity of lipids, which determine the integrity of neuronal and glial cell membranes. Now, a new study, led by the Metabolic Pathophysiology research group of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Lleida (IRBLleida) and the University of Lleida, has identified changes in lipids in different brain regions caused by aging.

The results show a sustained and relatively well preserved general lipid profile throughout adult life in most of the regions studied, in line with normal aging of the human brain. The lipid profile is resistant to age changes in most brain regions to ensure cell survival and function. However, some regions of the brain especially involved in memory are the most affected by the aging process.

The conclusions of the study suggest the existence of general features in the composition of fatty acids, such as, for example, an average chain length of 18 carbon atoms or a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids.

These characteristics of fatty acids are shared by all brain regions regardless of age. However, some brain areas, such as the inferior temporal cortex and the cingulate cortex, show some minor changes subject to age. The major fatty acids of the adult human brain undergo slight but progressive and significant changes during the aging process, with some changes showing a breaking point after the age of 50 years. This would indicate that fatty acids and their metabolism are closely related to the aging of the human brain.

The results of the work indicate that these changes only occur in some lipid types and in a particular location: the cell membranes' lipid rafts. The composition of lipid rafts changes with age depending on gender and these changes that affect the cell membrane are a factor of early age-affected neuronal damage.

This work opens new research paths on the definition of which lipid molecules change with age in the different regions of the human brain. It would be interesting by extending the lipid analysis to unstudied brain regions, analyze lipid patterns according to the neural cell type, and unmask its relationship to function and dysfunction leading to neuropathology.



Mota-Martorell, N., Andrés-Benito, P., Martín-Gari, M. et al. Selective brain regional changes in lipid profile with human aging. GeroScience (2022).

Text: Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas / IRBLleida

The Metabolic Physiopathology research group at IRBLleida