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Influence of dietary gangliosides on neonatal brain development

Paul McJarrow, Nicholas Schnell, Jacqueline Jumpsen, Tom Clandinin
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00211.x 451-463 First published online: 1 August 2009

Abstract

Gangliosides are sialic acid-containing glycosphingolipids. Gangliosides are found in human milk; understanding of the potential role of gangliosides in infant development is emerging, with suggested roles in the brain and gut. Ganglioside accretion in the developing brain is highest in utero and in early neonatal life, during the periods of dendritic branching and new synapse formation. Further, brain contains the highest relative ganglioside content in the body, particularly in neuronal cell membranes concentrated in the area of the synaptic membrane. Gangliosides are known to play a role in neuronal growth, migration and maturation, neuritogenesis, synaptogenesis, and myelination. In addition to their roles in development and structure of the brain, gangliosides also play a functional role in nerve cell communication. It is less well known whether dietary gangliosides can influence the development of cognitive function. This review summarizes current knowledge on the role gangliosides play in brain development.

  • brain development
  • cognitive function
  • gangliosides
  • infant
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