This chapter describes: (1) the content and composition of gangliosides in astrocytes; (2) the developmental expression of gangliosides in the cells; (3) quantitative and qualitative changes of gangliosides in pathological conditions affecting astrocytes; and (4) possible functions of gangliosides in astrocyte. Gangliosides are a family of sialic acid-containing glycosphingo lipids found primarily in the plasma membrane of virtually all vertebrate tissues and are particularly abundant in the nervous system. They are localized mainly in the outer surface of the plasma membranes and constitute part of theglycocalyx network surrounding the cell surface. Thus, they are assumed to be crucial in determining the properties and functions of cells. The occurrence of these molecules is cell-specific and is known to undergo developmentally regulated changes. These changes correlate well with their putative functions in cell to cell recognition, interaction and adhesion. Hence, they serve as excellent markers for monitoring cellular events in normal and pathological conditions.
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