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Cerebroside

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Definition

noun, plural: cerebrosides

A glycosphingolipid made of a monosaccharide or an oligosaccharide linked glycosidically to the terminal OH group of ceramide, and is typically found in the cell membranes of muscle and nervous tissue


Supplement

A glycosphingolipid is a glycolipid comprised of a carbohydrate and a sphingolipid -- particularly one that has a sphingosine backbone. The carbohydrate is linked to a sphingolipid by a glycosidic bond. Examples of glycosphingolipids include cerebrosides, gangliosides, globosides, and glycophosphosphingolipids.

Cerebrosides are glycosphingolipids found in the cell membranes of the neurons and the muscle cells. The cerebroside has a sphingosine core. In particular, a cerebroside structure is comprised of a monosaccharide (galactose or glucose) or an oligosaccharide linked glycosidically to the terminal OH group of ceramide. Hydrolysis of a cerebroside yields sphingosine, sugar unit (e.g. galactose or glucose), and fatty acid. The carbohydrate constituent of the cerebroside extends on the outside of the cell membrane. It, thus, plays a part in cell to cell interactions and cell recognition. Based on the carbohydrate constituent, the cerebrosides may be classified as galactocerebroside or glucocerebroside.

Galactocerebroside (also called galactosylceramide) is a cerebroside in which the carbohydrate constituent is galactose. It is found usually in neural tissues and the main glycosphingolipid in the brain. Galactocerebroside that is later sulfated is referred to as sulfatide. Sulfatides play a role in immune response and nervous system signaling.

Glucocerebroside (also known as glucosylceramide) is a cerebroside in which the carbohydrate constituent is glucose. The latter is often found in non-neural tissues. In skin, it plays a part in enabling water permeability barrier function of the skin.


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