The Plasma Membrane (PM) contains thousands of lipid and protein species that are dynamically and spatially organized into lateral membrane domains, an example of which are lipid rafts. Since one of the major functions of rafts is modulation of signaling originating at the PM, scientists hypothesize that the signaling changes occurring during cell development are associated with alterations in PM organization.
The modulation of raft domains could be a future therapeutically attractive approach, because a number of pharmacological and nutritional factors have been shown to influence raft stability and function . Notable among these is the modulation of membrane structure by ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which it has recently discovered to stabilize raft domains in a range of cell culture models (Tisza MJ et al., 2016 among others) .
Moreover, lipid rafts may represent specific chambers, where multimolecular signaling complexes, including lipids and proteins, play a role in stem cell differentiation. Many studies (Mattei et al., 2015 among others) highlight that all the main lipid constitutive components of rafts, i.e. gangliosides and cholesterol, are essential for their role in cell differentiation.
Hence, modulating raft properties by tailored lipid supplementation may help in regulating cell phenotype, suggesting a novel approach for targeting specific and selected physiological properties. It will be the gold medal for lipidomics.