Ganglioside GD3 is up-regulated in microglia and regulates phagocytosis following global cerebral ischemia

Jing Wang, Quanguang Zhang, Yujiao Lu, Yan Dong, Krishnan M. Dhandapani, Darrell W. Brann, Robert K. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Gangliosides, the major sialic-acid containing glycosphingolipids in the mammalian brain, play important roles in brain development and neural functions. Here, we show that the b-series ganglioside GD3 and its biosynthetic enzyme, GD3-synthase (GD3S), were up-regulated predominantly in the microglia of mouse hippocampus from 2 to 7 days following global cerebral ischemia (GCI). Interestingly, GD3S knockout (GD3S-KO) mice exhibited decreased hippocampal neuronal loss following GCI, as compared to wild-type (WT) mice. While comparable levels of astrogliosis and microglial proliferation were observed between WT and GD3S-KO mice, the phagocytic capacity of the GD3S-KO microglia was significantly compromised after GCI. At 2 and 4 days following GCI, the GD3S-KO microglia demonstrated decreased amoebic morphology, reduced neuronal material engulfment, and lower expression of the phagolysosome marker CD68, as compared to the WT microglia. Finally, by using a microglia-primary neuron co-culture model, we demonstrated that the GD3S-KO microglia isolated from mouse brains at 2 days after GCI are less neurotoxic to co-cultured hippocampal neurons than the WT-GCI microglia. Moreover, the percentage of microglia with engulfed neuronal elements in the co-cultured wells was also significantly decreased in the GD3S-KO mice after GCI. Interestingly, the impaired phagocytic capacity of GD3S-KO microglia could be partially restored by pre-treatment with exogenous ganglioside GD3. Altogether, this study provides functional evidence that ganglioside GD3 regulates phagocytosis by microglia in an ischemic stroke model. Our data also suggest that the GD3-linked microglial phagocytosis may contribute to the mechanism of delayed neuronal death following ischemic brain injury. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-752
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • GD3-synthase
  • Ganglioside GD3
  • global cerebral ischemia
  • microglia
  • phagocytosis
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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