They are the main part of plant membrane lipids where they substitute phospholipids to conserve phosphate for other essential processes. These chloroplast membranes contain a high quantity of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG).
Galactolipids are more bioavailable than free fatty acids, and have been shown to exhibit COX mediated anti-inflammatory activity. Bio-guided fractionation of spinach leaves (Spinacia oleracea) revealed alpha-linolenic acid galactolipids (18:3, n-3) were responsible for inhibitory effects on tumor promoter-induced Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activation. Recently, it has been demonstrated that this same galactolipid, 1,2-di-O-α-linolenoyl-3-O-α-D-galactopyranosyl-sn-glycerol, may be important for the anti-inflammatory activity of Dog Rose (Rosa canina), a medicinal plant with documented effect on anti-inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
The galactosphingolipid galactocerebroside (GalC) and its sulfated derivative sulfatide is also in abundance present (together with a small group of proteins) in myelin, the membrane around the axons in the nervous system of vertebrates.
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