We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Phosphatidylethanolamine?

By Geisha A. Legazpi
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) is an important phospholipid that makes up cell membranes and organelle membranes. It is also called cephalin because it is abundant in the brain, spinal cord, and other nervous tissues. As much as 45% of brain phospholipids consist of cephalin. Cephalin is believed to play an important role in cognition and memory. In bacteria, phosphatidylethanolamine is the major phospholipid; in animals, lecithin or phosphatidylcholine is the most abundant, but cephalin is a close second.

Like phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine is composed of glycerol, two fatty acids, and phosphoric acid. While phosphatidylcholine has choline attached to the phosphate group, PE has ethanolamine. The fatty acids of PE may be identical or different, but they usually occupy the 1,2 carbon positions. At times, however, they may occupy the 1,3 carbon positions.

Animals and humans obtain most of the ethanolamine part of PE from dietary sources. The body then makes phosphatidylethanolamine through a series of enzymatic steps. First, ethanolamine is phosphorylated by a cytosolic enzyme called ethanolamine kinase. Second, the product of the first reaction is combined with cytidine triphosphate to create cytidine ethanolaminephosphotransferase. Finally, an enzyme bound to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane called cytidine diphospho-ethanolamine:diacylglycerol ethanolaminephosphotransferase acts on the product of the second reaction and on diacylglycerol to form PE.

The melting temperature of phosphatidylcholine is –20 degrees Celsius, while that of phosphatidylethanolamine is –16 degrees Celsius. PE has a higher melting point, so it is less fluid. Phosphatidylethanolamine is believed to lend a lateral pressure to the lipid bilayer, such that membrane proteins achieve their stable confirmation. It is also believed to support the positioning of positively charged amino acids on the inside of the membrane.

Phosphatidylethanolamine has many other biological roles. It helps stabilize the sarcolemmal membranes of the cardiac tissues when there is an inadequate supply of oxygen, such as what happens in coronary heart disease. PE also plays a role in the hepatic secretion of very-low-density lipoproteins as well as in membrane fission and fusion. It undergoes reactions to donate its ethanolamine component for the production of a membrane protein-anchoring compound called glycosylphosphatidylinositol. PE can also be converted to phosphatidylcholine by phosphatidyl ethanolamine methyltransferase, an enzyme present in the liver.

Cephalin is postulated to play a main role in keeping the nervous system intact and healthy because of its multitude of functions and its significant contribution to neural tissues. Some supplements containing this phospholipid are available on the market. There is no firm basis regarding the effectiveness of these supplements in maintaining and restoring the health of the nervous system, or in serving as memory enhancers.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.