Research Spotlight: Multiomics of Synaptic Junctions Reveals Altered Lipid Metabolism and Signaling Following Environmental Enrichment

Posted on January 04, 2022


Ahrends Lipid Leader Research Spotlight Photo For Website

Are lipids important in neurotransmission?

Neurons, the fundamental unit of the brain and central nervous system, are called upon to receive sensory information and relay the motor commands to our muscles. How do these individual cells communicate with each other to form a network of information transferral? Well, key components of this network are synaptic junctions. The synaptic junction is the location where a neuron sends information to the target cell, whether that be a brain or muscle cell. Research has provided significant evidence indicating the essential function of lipids in this transmission of information. Dr. Robert Ahrends, Leibniz-Institut fur Analytische Wissenschaften and University of Vienna, and his team of researchers strive to better understand how lipids and proteins interact during this signal transduction. To do so, they developed a multiomics extraction and analysis workflow.

Determining the importance and roles of lipids in neurotransmission.

The comprehensive multiomics analysis of synapse compartments follows this path: (1) the isolation and purification of organelles from rat models, (2) extracting lipids and addition of internal standards, as well as hydrolysis of proteins and labelling with tandem mass tags, (3) using targeted or shotgun MS/MS analysis, (4) lipidomics and proteomics analysis by first characterizing structure, and then the absolute quantification of all detected lipid species, (5) establishment of a lipid-protein matrix to form a lipid network, (6) validation via in vitro and ex vivo experiments. This lipidomic analysis was able to structurally identify over 400 lipid species! These lipids included: phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, glycerolipids, sphingolipids, endocannabinoids, and sterols. Other interesting finds included the enrichment of ceramides in junctions and the depletion of hexosyl ceramides, dihexosyl ceramides, and sulfatides.

The primary purpose of this research was to show the utility of the developed multiomics workflow which ultimately resulted in the quantification of 416 lipid species covering a concentration range over seven orders of magnitude. Also, the workflow was able to determine the expression levels of over 5000 proteins. The utility was then further shown by studying the endocannabinoid signaling at spine synapses and showing that reduced endocannabinoid signaling increases surface expression of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs).

Lipidomic analysis has become a crucial aspect of lipid research, and we are excited to provide products that make research like Dr. Ahrends’ possible. Dr. Ahrends used several of Avanti’s lipidomic mixtures and individual standards in this study. To learn more about our lipidomic analysis products, click HERE!


Thank you, Dr. Ahrends, for being a valued Avanti customer and prominent member of the lipid research community. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next! Check out the full research article HERE!