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The challenge of brain lipidomics


After many years backstage, lipids have made a come back in the limelight of neuroscience. This renewed excitement was sparked by a series of convergent discoveries in the fields of neural development, synaptic physiology and receptor pharmacology, which have begun to reveal the roles played by lipid messengers and their receptors in brain function. Such roles extend from the development of the neocortex to the processing of complex behaviors, encompassing a territory as vast as those traditionally assigned to growth factors, neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Along with these basic discoveries, technical advances have simplified the identification and quantification of neural lipids, achieving a degree of sensitivity and selectivity that was unthinkable only 10 years ago. Thanks to this progress, we can now resolve complex mixtures of lipid molecules and quantify each of their components, which are often present in tissues at vanishingly low concentrations. In this review, I outline several key features of brain lipid signaling and discuss the opportunities and challenges that such features impose on future lipidomic approaches.

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