Components of phosphatidylserines:
Blue, green: variable fatty acid groups
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Phosphatidylserine (abbreviated Ptd-L-Ser or PS) is an important Membrane lipid (i.e. component of the cell membrane). It plays a key role in cell cycle signaling, specifically in relationship to apoptosis.
Phosphatidylserine is a glycerophospholipid. It consists of two fatty acids attached in ester linkage to the first and second carbon of glycerol and serine attached through a phosphodiester linkage to the third carbon of the glycerol. 
Phosphatidylserine(s) are actively held facing the cytosolic (inner) side of the cell membrane by the enzyme flippase. However, when a cell undergoes apoptosis, phosphatidylserine is no longer restricted to the cytosolic side by flippase. Instead scramblase catalyzes the rapid exchange of phosphatidylserine between the two sides. When the phosphatidylserines flip to the extracellular (outer) surface of the cell, they act as a signal for macrophages to engulf the cells.
When circulating platelets encounter the site of an injury, collagen and thrombin mediated activation causes externalization of phosphatidylserine (PS) from the inner membrane layer, where it serves as a procoagulant surface. This surface acts to orient coagulation proteases, specifically tissue factor (TF) and Factor VII (the tenase complex), facilitating further proteolysis and activation of Factor X, and ultimately generating thrombin.
The coagulation disorder Scott Syndrome, named for the patient Mary Scott, is caused genetically by mutation for TMEM16F, a scramblase that catalyzes PS externalization. It is characterized as a mild bleeding disorder stemming from the patient's deficiency in thrombin generation.
Phosphatidylserine is biosynthesized in bacteria by condensing the amino acid serine with CDP (cytidine diphosphate)-activated phosphatidic acid. In mammals, phosphatidylserine is produced by base-exchange reactions with phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine. Conversely, phosphatidylserine can also give rise to phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine, although in animals the pathway to generate phosphatidylcholine from phosphatidylserine only operates in the liver.
The average daily phosphatidylserine (PS) intake from diet in Western countries is estimated to be 130 mg. PS may be found in meat and fish. Only small amounts of PS can be found in dairy products or in vegetables, with the exception of white beans and soy lecithin.
Table 1. PS content in different foods.
|Food||PS Content in mg/100 g|
|Soy lecithin||5900 |
|Offal (average value)||305|
|Chicken leg, with skin, without bone||134|
|Chicken breast, with skin||85|
|Turkey leg, without skin or bone||50|
|Turkey breast without skin||45|
|Whole grain barley||20|
|European pilchard (sardine)||16|
|Cow's Milk (whole, 3.5% fat)||1|
Target for tumor treatment
Bavituximab is a monoclonal antibody directed against phosphatidylserine (PS) expressed on tumor endothelium. Various pathophysiologic processes cause the exposure of PS on the external membrane leaflet. As of 2016 it was in development against several kinds of solid tumors.
Memory and Cognition
In May, 2003 the Food and Drug Administration gave "qualified health claim" status to phosphatidylserine thus allowing labels to state "consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly" along with the disclaimer "very limited and preliminary scientific research suggests that phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. FDA concludes that there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim."
The FDA declared that "based on its evaluation of the totality of the publicly available scientific evidence, the agency concludes that there is not significant scientific agreement among qualified experts that a relationship exists between phosphatidylserine and reduced risk of dementia or cognitive dysfunction". The FDA also noted "Of the 10 intervention studies that formed the basis of FDA's evaluation, all were seriously flawed or limited in their reliability in one or more ways", concluding that "most of the evidence does not support a relationship between phosphatidylserine and reduced risk of dementia or cognitive dysfunction, and that the evidence that does support such a relationship is very limited and preliminary".
Early studies of phosphatidylserine on memory and cognition used a supplement which isolated the molecule from the bovine brain. Currently, most commercially available products are made from cabbage or soybeans because of concerns about mad cow disease in bovine brain tissue. These plant-based products have a similar, but not identical chemical structure to the bovine derived supplements; for example, the FDA notes "the phosphatidylserine molecule from soy lecithin contains mainly polyunsaturated acids, while the phosphatidylserine molecule from bovine brain cortex contains mainly saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids".
A preliminary study in rats in 1999 indicated that the soy derived phosphatidylserine supplement was as effective as the bovine derived supplement in one of three behavioral tests. However, clinical trials in humans found that "a daily supplement of S-PS [soybean-derived phosphatidylserine] does not affect memory or other cognitive functions in older individuals with memory complaints."
In athletes, phosphatidylserine has been shown to improve performance, endocrine response to exercise stress, and decrease muscle damage in athletes involved in cycling, weight training, golf and endurance running. PS has been reported to be an effective supplement for combating exercise-induced stress by blunting the exercise-induced increase in cortisol levels in a dose dependent manner. PS supplementation promotes a desirable hormonal balance for athletes and might attenuate the physiological deterioration that accompanies overtraining and/or overstretching. In recent studies, PS has been shown to enhance mood in a cohort of young people during mental stress and to improve accuracy during tee-off by increasing the stress resistance of golfers.
Traditionally, PS supplements were derived from bovine cortex (BC-PS). However, due to the risk of potential transfer of infectious diseases, soy-derived PS (S-PS) supplements have been used as an alternative. Soy-derived PS is designated Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA. A 2002 safety report determined supplementation in elder people at a dosage of 200 mg three times daily to be safe.
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- Staff, Adis Insight. Bavituximab profile Last updated Jan 27 2016
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- "Summary of Qualified Health Claims Subject to Enforcement Discretion - Qualified Claims About Cognitive Function".
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- DrugBank info page
- FDA Qualified Health Claim Phosphatidylserine and Cognitive Dysfunction and Dementia
- Phosphatidylserines at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)