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Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are composed of a mono-, di-, or oligosaccharide and a ceramide and function as constituents of cell membranes. Various molecular species of GSLs have been identified in mammalian cells due to differences in the structures of oligosaccharides. The oligosaccharide structure can vary depending on cell lineage, differentiation stage, and pathology; this property can be used as a cell identification marker. Furthermore, GSLs are involved in various aspects of the immune response, such as cytokine production, immune signaling, migration of immune cells, and antibody production. GSLs containing certain structures exhibit strong immunogenicity in immunized animals and promote the production of anti-GSL antibodies. By exploiting this property, it is possible to generate antibodies that recognize the fine oligosaccharide structure of specific GSLs or glycoproteins. In our study using artificially synthesized GSLs (artGSLs), we found that several structural features are correlated with the antibody-inducing activity of GSLs. Based on these findings, we designed artGSLs that efficiently induce the production of antibodies accompanied by class switching and developed several antibodies that recognize not only certain glycan structures of GSLs but also those of glycoproteins. This review comprehensively introduces the immune activities of GSLs and their application as pharmaceuticals.


Tetsuya Okuda. Application of the Antibody-Inducing Activity of Glycosphingolipids to Human Diseases. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Apr 06;22(7)

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PMID: 33917390

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