Gangliosides are series of glycosphingolipids containing sialic acids in the oligosaccharide portion in mammalian cells. Gangliosides are a component of cellular membranes and play roles in modulating membrane function and the activity of membrane proteins. Abnormal expression and metabolism of gangliosides lead to the onset of several conditions in humans, such as neurologic diseases, diabetes, and cancer. A number of studies have been carried out to date to investigate the role of gangliosides in these diseases, and the effect of diet on tissue expression of gangliosides has recently become a topic of interest in this field. As gangliosides are degraded in the intestinal tract, ingested food-derived gangliosides are not directly absorbed into tissues in vivo, but the degradation products can be absorbed and affect ganglioside expression in the tissues. Recent studies have also shown that the expression of gangliosides in tissue cells can be indirectly induced by controlling the expression of ganglioside metabolism-related genes via the diet. These results indicate that dietary control can regulate the expression levels of gangliosides in tissues, which is expected to play a role in preventing and treating ganglioside-related diseases. This review introduces recent studies on the effect of diet on the expression of gangliosides in tissues, with a focus on our findings.
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