Endothelial ether lipids link the vasculature to blood pressure, behavior, and neurodegeneration

Larry D. Spears, Sangeeta Adak, Guifang Dong, Xiaochao Wei, George Spyropoulos, Qiang Zhang, Li Yin, Chu Feng, Donghua Hu, Irfan J. Lodhi, Fong Fu Hsu, Rithwick Rajagopal, Kevin K. Noguchi, Carmen M. Halabi, Lindsey Brier, Annie R. Bice, Brian V. Lananna, Erik S. Musiek, Oshri Avraham, Valeria CavalliJerrah K. Holth, David M. Holtzman, David F. Wozniak, Joseph P. Culver, Clay F. Semenkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Vascular disease contributes to neurodegeneration, which is associated with decreased blood pressure in older humans. Plasmalogens, ether phospholipids produced by peroxisomes, are decreased in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. However, the mechanistic links between ether phospholipids, blood pressure, and neurodegeneration are not fully understood. Here, we show that endothelium-derived ether phospholipids affect blood pressure, behavior, and neurodegeneration in mice. In young adult mice, inducible endothelial-specific disruption of PexRAP, a peroxisomal enzyme required for ether lipid synthesis, unexpectedly decreased circulating plasmalogens. PexRAP endothelial knockout (PEKO) mice responded normally to hindlimb ischemia but had lower blood pressure and increased plasma renin activity. In PEKO as compared with control mice, tyrosine hydroxylase was decreased in the locus coeruleus, which maintains blood pressure and arousal. PEKO mice moved less, slept more, and had impaired attention to and recall of environmental events as well as mild spatial memory deficits. In PEKO hippocampus, gliosis was increased, and a plasmalogen associated with memory was decreased. Despite lower blood pressure, PEKO mice had generally normal homotopic functional connectivity by optical neuroimaging of the cerebral cortex. Decreased glycogen synthase kinase-3 phosphorylation, a marker of neurodegeneration, was detected in PEKO cerebral cortex. In a co-culture system, PexRAP knockdown in brain endothelial cells decreased glycogen synthase kinase-3 phosphorylation in co-cultured astrocytes that was rescued by incubation with the ether lipid alkylglycerol. Taken together, our findings suggest that endothelium-derived ether lipids mediate several biological processes and may also confer neuroprotection in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100079
JournalJournal of lipid research
StatePublished - Apr 2021


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