Ether Lipids

Ether lipids are modified phospholipids containing an alkyl chain attached to the sn-1 position by an ether linkage. These lipids represent a rather large percentage of the total phospholipid pool in mammals at roughly 20%. The majority of these ether lipids found in mammals are located in the brain, heart, spleen, and white blood cells. The most common form of ether lipids is plasmalogens. Ether lipids play structural and functional roles in mammalian biology. Structural roles of ether lipids include making up lipid raft microdomains (LRMs) and other higher-order membrane structures such as those found in myelin. Functional roles related to ether lipids include membrane trafficking, cell signaling and differentiation, and roles as cellular antioxidants. Levels of ether lipids have also been associated with disease states. Some of the common diseases associated with decreased levels of ether lipids are Alzheimer's Disease, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s Disease. Increased levels of ether lipids are found in certain cancers particularly more aggressive types and metabolic disorders. As the interest in lipidomics has risen over the past several years, interest in ether lipids and their potential as biomarkers of diseases has also risen. Whether or not the levels of ether lipids are related to disease pathogenesis or a byproduct of the disease remains to be answered.

Dean, J. M., & Lodhi, I. J. (2018). Structural and functional roles of ether lipids. Protein & cell, 9(2), 196–206.