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Current Neuropharmacology


ISSN (Print): 1570-159X
ISSN (Online): 1875-6190

Review Article

Cholesterol in Brain Development and Perinatal Brain Injury: More than a Building Block

Author(s): Fuxin Lu, Donna M. Ferriero and Xiangning Jiang*

Volume 20, Issue 7, 2022

Published on: 25 March, 2022

Page: [1400 - 1412] Pages: 13

DOI: 10.2174/1570159X19666211111122311

Price: $65


The central nervous system (CNS) is enriched with important classes of lipids, in which cholesterol is known to make up a major portion of myelin sheaths, besides being a structural and functional unit of CNS cell membranes. Unlike in the adult brain, where the cholesterol pool is relatively stable, cholesterol is synthesized and accumulated at the highest rate in the developing brain to meet the needs of rapid brain growth at this stage, which is also a critical period for neuroplasticity. In addition to its biophysical role in membrane organization, cholesterol is crucial for brain development due to its involvement in brain patterning, myelination, neuronal differentiation, and synaptogenesis. Thus any injuries to the immature brain that affect cholesterol homeostasis may have long-term adverse neurological consequences. In this review, we describe the unique features of brain cholesterol biosynthesis and metabolism, cholesterol trafficking between different cell types, and highlight cholesterol-dependent biological processes during brain maturation. We also discuss the association of impaired cholesterol homeostasis with several forms of perinatal brain disorders in term and preterm newborns, including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Strategies targeting the cholesterol pathways may open new avenues for the diagnosis and treatment of developmental brain injury.

Keywords: Cholesterol, brain development, brain injury, CNS, encephalopathy, neuroplasticity.

Graphical Abstract
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