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Synthetic Phosphatidylglycerols

Phosphatidylglycerols are found in pulmonary surfactants, the lipoprotein complex that is formed by type II alveolar cells in the lung.1 They are important in spreading secreted surfactants over the type I alveolar cells. A decreased level of phosphatidylglycerol in cystic fibrosis respiratory mucus is partly responsible for its marked adhesiveness and stickiness, which impairs mucus transport. Distearoyl phosphatidylglycerol (DSPG) has been shown to be the most efficient form of phosphatidylglycerol in the enhancement of respiratory mucus clearance. The enzyme cardiolipin synthase attaches two phosphatidylglycerols together to form cardiolipid which is a major component of the mitochondrial inner membrane.2 Phosphatidylglycerol is the main component of some bacterial membranes where it contains diacyl, alkylacyl, or alkenylacyl groups. Phosphatidylglycerols generally have saturated and monoenoic fatty acids on position sn-2 and polyunsaturated fatty acids in position sn-1. This is the opposite of the other animal phospholipids and is due to its being synthesized by a different mechanism. Phosphatidylglycerol has been found to be essential for the development of thylakoid membranes in some plants.3 Besides being critical in membranes, it is essential for the oligomerization of photosystems I and II in cyanobacteria, for the sensitivity to chilling in plants, and for cellular fission and division in bacteria. DSPG has a high transition temperature and has, therefore, found much use in liposomal drug delivery systems.4


  1. L. Huang et al. “Oxidation-induced changes in human lens epithelial cells: 1. Phospholipids” Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Vol. 41 pp. 1425-1432, 2006
  2. S. Vaena de Avalos et al. “The phosphatidylglycerol/cardiolipin biosynthetic pathway is required for the activation of inositol phosphosphingolipid phospholipase C, Isc1p, during growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae” Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 280(8) pp. 7170-7177, 2004
  3. M. Hagio et al. “Phosphatidylglycerol is Essential for the Development of Thylakoid Membranes in Arabidopsis thaliana” Plant & Cell Physiology, Vol. 43(12), pp. 1456-1464, 2002
  4. A. Samad et al. “Liposomal Drug Delivery Systems: An Update Review” Current Drug Delivery, Vol. 4 pp. 297-305, 2007

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