Cellular mechanisms of brain energy metabolism: Relevance to functional brain imaging and to neurodegenerative disorders

P. J. Magistretti*, L. Pellerin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Astrocyte end-feet surround intraparenchymal microvessels and represent therefore the first cellular barrier for glucose entering the brain. As such, they are a likely site of prevalent glucose uptake. Astrocytic processes are also wrapped around synaptic contacts, implying that they are ideally positioned to sense and be functionally coupled to increased synaptic activity. We have recently demonstrated that glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter, stimulates in a concentration-dependent manner 2-DG uptake and phosphorylation by astrocytes in primary culture.1 The effect is not receptor-mediated but rather proceeds via one of the recently cloned glutamate transporter. The mechanism involves an activation of the Na+/K+ ATPase. Concomitant to the stimulation of glucose uptake, glutamate causes a concentration-dependent increase in lactate efflux. These observations suggest that glutamate uptake is coupled to aerobic glycolysis in astrocytes. In addition, since glutamate release occurs following the modality-specific activation of a brain region, the glutamate-evoked uptake of glucose into astrocytes provides a simple mechanism to couple neuronal activity to energy metabolism. These data also suggest that modality-specific activation visualized using 2DG-based autoradiography or PET may primarily reflect glutamate-mediated uptake of 2DG into astrocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-387
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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