A study published in Scientific Reports demonstrates, for the first time and using computational tools, that polyunsaturated lipids can alter the binding rate of two types of receivers involved in certain nervous system diseases.
Using latest-generation molecular simulations, which are like “computational microscopes,” the researchers have demonstrated that a decrease in polyunsaturated lipids in neuronal membranes, as seen in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s sufferers, directly affects the binding rate of dopamine and adenosine receptors. These are part of the family of receptors connected to the G protein (GPCR), located in the cell membrane and responsible for transmitting signals to within the cell. Various studies have demonstrated that lipid profiles in the brains of people with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are very different from those of healthy people. These studies showed that the levels of a polyunsaturated fatty acid in neuronal membranes are considerably lower in the brains of sufferers. The researchers believe that this difference in the lipid composition of membranes could alter the way in which certain proteins interact with each other, as in the case of the GPCR receivers.
These results could enable, in the future, new therapeutic pathways to be initiated for regulating the binding of these receivers, either through the lipid composition of the membrane or by designing new lipids that have a modulating effect on this binding rate. It could also facilitate the study of other similar scenarios where specific membrane lipids are able to modulate the behaviour of other important receivers, at a clinical level.
Source: Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute