Table of Contents

What are Glycolipids?

Glycolipids are a type of complex lipids comprising carbohydrates, fatty acids, sphingolipids or a glycerol group. The term glycolipids mainly describe any compound containing one or more monosaccharide residues bound by a glycosidic linkage. These molecules are widely distributed in tissue, brain and also in nerve cells.

Also Read: Lipids

Types of Glycolipids

Glycolipids are structural lipids, which are generally found on the extracellular face of the eukaryotic cellular membrane. The different types of glycolipids are:

  • Cerebrosides

These types of glycolipids or glycosphingolipids are found primarily in the brain and in the peripheral nervous tissue. It acts as an insulator and is mainly involved in providing a protective coating to the nerve cells.

  • Gangliosides

These types of glycolipids or glycosphingolipids are neutral compounds and are composed of sialic acid residues. They are the main components of the animal’s cell membrane and are abundantly found in the plasma membrane of the neurons.

Functions of Glycolipids

The main functions of Glycolipid are:

  1. It provides energy to the cells.
  2. It is an essential part of cell membranes.
  3. It helps in determining the blood group of an individual.
  4. It acts as a receptor at the surface of the red blood cells.
  5. It also functions in assisting the immune system by destroying and eliminating pathogens from the body.

Explore more: Difference between Cell Membrane and Plasma Membrane

This article concludes with an introduction to glycolipids, their types and their functions. To know more about glycolipids, other related topics and important questions, keep visiting our website at BYJU’S Biology.

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