Cerebroside vs Ganglioside

Glycolipids are lipids that contain a sugar residue. The sugar can be a monosaccharide, oligosaccharide, or polysaccharide. Cerebroside and Ganglioside are glycolipids.

Difference between Cerebroside and Ganglioside



Cerebrosides are the simplest glycosphingolipids with a single sugar linked to ceramide.

Ganglioside are complex glycosphingolipids with an oligosaccharide fragment linked to ceramide.

Cerebrosides contain a single sugar residue linked to ceramide

Gangliosides contain a ceramide, a number of sugar groups, and sialic acid.

Formed by the joining of monosaccharides connected directly to the –OH at C-1 of the ceramide moiety by glycosidic bond


Formed by the joining of complex oligosaccharides at C1 head group, (D- glucose , D- galactose, n-acetyl D galactosamine and N-acetyl neuraminic acid (NANA) (sialic acid)

Cerebroside are neutral glycolipids

Gangliosides have a net-negative charge at pH 7.0 (acidic) due to the presence of N-acetyl neuraminic acid or sialic acid on one or more of its terminal sugar units.

Examples:galactosylceramide (galactocerebroside) with β-d-galactose as the monosaccharide unit and glucosylceramide (glucocerebroside) with and β-d-glucose

GM1, GM2, GM3, GM1b, GD1α,

~ 188 gangliosides with different carbohydrate structures have been identified in vertebrates

Occurrence and Function:

Cerebrosides are abundant in brain white matter and nerve myelin sheaths and are present in small quantity within the cell membranes of other tissues.

Galactosylceramide (Galβ1-1'Cer) is the principal glycosphingolipid in brain tissue, insulate the axons of neuronal cells and constitute a substantial component of the extended plasma membrane of oligodendrocytes

Glucosylceramide With glucose present in non neural tissues, liver spleen, lungs, retina. Glucosylceramide is a major constituent of skin lipids, where it is essential for lamellar body formation in the stratum corneum and to maintain the water permeability barrier of the skin.


Gangliosides abundant in grey matter at nerve endings, ganglions and at specific hormone receptor sites on cell surfaces

Functions: molecular recognition, modulation of membrane proteins and ion channels, in cell signaling and cell to cell communications

Gaucher disease is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by mutations in the gene for glucocerebrosidase.

Ganglioside accumulation is toxic to neurons)

Guillain-Barré syndrome, an acute polyradiculoneuropathy that leads to acute quadriplegia, is caused by an autoimmune response to cell surface gangliosides

Lysosomal storage diseases such as GM1 gangliosidosis and GM2 gangliosidosis (Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease) are caused by defects in the lysosomal glycosidases or specific co-activators, resulting in accumulation of the substrates, such as glycosphingolipids, including gangliosides.

Alzheimer’s disease,the neurodegenerative disease, has been proposed to be initiated by aggregation of amyloid-β peptide caused by gangliosides

Yu, R. K., Tsai, Y. T., Ariga, T., & Yanagisawa, M. (2011). Structures, biosynthesis, and functions of gangliosides--an overview. Journal of oleo science60(10), 537–544.


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