Unesterified cholesterol is a major component of plasma membranes. In the brain of the adult, it is mostly found in myelin sheaths, where it plays a major architectural role. In the newborn mouse, little myelination of neurons has occurred, and much of this sterol comprises a metabolically active pool. In the current study, we have accessed this metabolically active pool and, using LC/MS, have identified cholesterol precursors and metabolites. Although desmosterol and 24S-hydroxycholesterol represent the major precursor and metabolite, respectively, other steroids, including the oxysterols 22-oxocholesterol, 22R-hydroxycholesterol, 20R,22R-dihydroxycholesterol, and the C(21)-neurosteroid progesterone, were identified. 24S,25-epoxycholesterol formed in parallel to cholesterol was also found to be a major sterol in newborn brain. Like 24S- and 22R-hydroxycholesterols, and also desmosterol, 24S,25-epoxycholesterol is a ligand to the liver X receptors, which are expressed in brain. The desmosterol metabolites (24Z),26-, (24E),26-, and 7α-hydroxydesmosterol were identified in brain for the first time.
- Animals, Newborn
- Chromatography, Liquid/methods
- Mass Spectrometry/methods