(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the Salk Institute and the University of California at San Diego have discovered a previously unknown factor involved in the aging process – the SGDG lipid class, or 3-sulphogalactosyldiacylglycerols. These compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect, but their content in the brain decreases with age.
The researchers studied changes in the lipidome the totality of all lipid molecules in the brains of mice throughout their lives.
To do this, the methods of non-targeted lipidomics were applied, a relatively recent field of research that includes the identification and measurement of the level of thousands of types of lipid molecules, as well as the identification of their interactions with other biological compounds.
Analysis of lipids taken from the brains of mice of five age groups (from 4 to 78 weeks) was performed on the basis of liquid chromatography
Scientists have found that sulphogalactosylglycerolipids, which include SGDG and sulphogalactosylalkylacylglycerols (SGAAG), show a steady decline with age.
The decrease in the level of SGDG and SGAAG associated with aging occurred precisely in the central nervous system, while SGDG were structural components of myelin, the cellular structure that forms the sheath of nerve fibers.
A common feature of age-related neurodegenerative diseases is inflammation, which contributes to neuronal damage and death.
Experiments have shown the anti-inflammatory effect of SGDG: they dramatically suppress gene expression induced by polysaccharides (powerful immune system activators) and block the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from macrophage and microglial cells.
The researchers also demonstrated that these lipids are present not only in the brains of mice, but also in humans and primates, meaning SGDG has most likely retained its anti-inflammatory functions over tens of millions of years of evolution.
In the future, the authors plan to study how SGDG is regulated during aging and which proteins are responsible for their synthesis and degradation.
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