We previously reported that a ganglioside mixture from bovine brain could prevent neuronal death and promote regeneration in rats with hypoglossal nerve resection. In the present study, we have compared the neurotrophic effects of various glycosphingolipids including lactosylceramide. The findings revealed that GT1b had the activity of neuronal death prevention equivalent to a ganglioside mixture or autograft, while other glycolipids exhibited about 60% activity. However, the capability to promote the regeneration varied among glycolipids, that is, GT1b (86%), GD1b (55%), GD1a (35%), GQ1b (34%), GM1 (20%), lactosyl-ceramide (17%) in the number of horseradish peroxidase-positive neurons as an indicator of regeneration. The experiments with oligosaccharides of GT1b or GD1b and ceramide showed that the carbohydrate moiety mainly exerts neurotrophic effects. These findings suggested that fine structures of carbohydrate moiety in gangliosides are critical in the regenerative activity in this hypoglossal nerve regeneration system.
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