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Monday 9 June 2003

Definition: A plasmalogen is an ether lipid where the first position of glycerol binds a vinyl residue (from a vinyl alcohol) with the double bond next to the ether bond. The second carbon has a typical ester-linked fatty acid, and the third carbon usually has a phospholipid head group like choline or ethanolamine.

In many tissues plasmalogens are minor constituents, but in heart tissue nearly 50% of phosphatidylcholine contains the alkenyl ether at carbon 1. Nervous tissues, testes and kidneys also contain significant amounts of plasmalogens.

Alkenyl ether-containing phospholipids can protect cells against the damaging effects of singlet oxygen, which at high concentrations can kill cells.


Zellweger syndrome is characterized by defects in peroxisome biogenesis resulting in the reduced production of plasmalogen synthesis.

See also

- plasmalogen synthase