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Plasmalogens constitute a fascinating group of biomolecules, which fulfill a wide spectrum of roles in physiology and pathophysiology. Structurally, they are a subgroup of glycerophospholipids. Yet, their special chemical nature (i.e. the vinyl ether bond at the sn-1 position) provides them with ...

Plasmalogens constitute a fascinating group of biomolecules, which fulfill a wide spectrum of roles in physiology and pathophysiology. Structurally, they are a subgroup of glycerophospholipids. Yet, their special chemical nature (i.e. the vinyl ether bond at the sn-1 position) provides them with characteristic biophysical properties and requires a unique path of biosynthesis demanding an interplay of different compartments, namely peroxisomes and the ER in mammals. Due to the potential heterogeneity of alkenyl and acyl groups attached to the glycerol backbone, a large number of diverse species exists, each with an individual set of biophysical and biochemical attributes

Plasmalogens show an exceptional distribution across the evolutionary tree. They are widely present in anaerobic bacteria and animals (with biosynthesis pathways differing considerably), but mainly absent from aerobic and facultatively anaerobic bacteria, as well as fungi or plants. Similarly diverse as their occurrence in the different phyla and kingdoms are also their biological functions. Originally viewed exclusively as antioxidants and simple membrane components, more and more different roles have emerged with time, like just recently the connection of plasmalogens to ferroptosis and mitochondrial energy generation.

Another intriguing aspect of the research on plasmalogens is the role that they might play in human disease. Next to inborn errors in plasmalogen biosynthesis, alterations in plasmalogen levels have been linked to several disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Furthermore, plasmalogens are viewed by many as a promising treatment option for various metabolic and degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease or cardiovascular disorders.

Major advancements have been made towards the understanding of plasmalogen biochemistry and physiology (e.g., the recent identification of the gene encoding the desaturase enzyme responsible for introducing the characteristic vinyl ether bond); however, more research is needed to fully understand the role of these glycerolipids.

The current Research Topic welcomes all types of scholarly work that have the potential to unravel novel aspects and mechanisms underlying the physiological and pathophysiological involvement of plasmalogens. We are interested in including studies that cover all aspects of plasmalogen biology, chemistry and biophysics, emphasizing the versatility of this lipid subclass.

Potential contributions may address one of the following topics:
• Physiological and pharmacological functions of plasmalogens including their role in antioxidation and signaling;
• Homeostasis of plasmalogens in mammals;
• Biosynthesis of plasmalogens in different species (derived from all phyla and kingdoms), e.g. anaerobic bacteria of the gut flora;
• Metabolism of plasmalogens;
• Diversity of plasmalogen species and their abundance in different species;
• Diseases associated with plasmalogen biosynthesis and metabolism, including clinical manifestations of the different subtypes of rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata (RCDP);
• Plasmalogens as biomarkers for physiological and pathological processes;
• Plasmalogens as therapeutic compounds and dietary supplements;
• Biophysical properties of plasmalogens including their role in membrane structure and function.

This list is not to be considered exhaustive. As ether lipids, plasmalogens are metabolized from and to many other ether lipid subclasses that are not the prime focus of this issue, but certainly should be addressed whenever the connection to plasmalogens is given. Thus, all relevant research connected to plasmalogen biology is welcome in the form of Original Articles, Reviews or Brief Research Reports.




Masanori Honsho is Endowed Chair in Neuroinflammation and Brain Fatigue Science funded by Fujino Brain Research Co., Ltd.

Keywords: plasmalogens, rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata, glycerolipids


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