Since its introduction 16 years ago, the astrocyte–neuron lactate shuttle (ANLS) model has profoundly modified our understanding of neuroenergetics by bringing a cellular and molecular resolution. Praised or disputed, the concept has never ceased to attract attention, leading to critical advances and unexpected insights. Here, we summarize recent experimental evidence further supporting the main tenets of the model. Thus, evidence for distinct metabolic phenotypes between neurons (mainly oxidative) and astrocytes (mainly glycolytic) have been provided by genomics and classical metabolic approaches. Moreover, it has become clear that astrocytes act as a syncytium to distribute energy substrates such as lactate to active neurones. Glycogen, the main energy reserve located in astrocytes, is used as a lactate source to sustain glutamatergic neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity. Lactate is also emerging as a neuroprotective agent as well as a key signal to regulate blood flow. Characterization of monocarboxylate transporter regulation indicates a possible involvement in synaptic plasticity and memory. Finally, several modeling studies captured the implications of such findings for many brain functions. The ANLS model now represents a useful, experimentally based framework to better understand the coupling between neuronal activity and energetics as it relates to neuronal plasticity, neurodegeneration, and functional brain imaging.
astrocytes; brain imaging; energy metabolism; lactate; neurodegeneration; neuronal–glial interaction
We introduce a label-free technology based on digital holographic microscopy (DHM) with applicability for screening by imaging, and we demonstrate its capability for cytotoxicity assessment using mammalian living cells. For this first high content screening compatible application, we automatized a digital holographic microscope for image acquisition of cells using commercially available 96-well plates. Data generated through both label-free DHM imaging and fluorescence-based methods were in good agreement for cell viability identification and a Z′-factor close to 0.9 was determined, validating the robustness of DHM assay for phenotypic screening. Further, an excellent correlation was obtained between experimental cytotoxicity dose–response curves and known IC50 values for different toxic compounds. For comparable results, DHM has the major advantages of being label free and close to an order of magnitude faster than automated standard fluorescence microscopy.
Oligodendroglia support axon survival and function through mechanisms independent of myelination and their dysfunction leads to axon degeneration in several diseases. The cause of this degeneration has not been determined, but lack of energy metabolites such as glucose or lactate has been hypothesized. Lactate is transported exclusively by monocarboxylate transporters, and changes to these transporters alter lactate production and utilization. We show the most abundant lactate transporter in the CNS, monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1), is highly enriched within oligodendroglia and that disruption of this transporter produces axon damage and neuron loss in animal and cell culture models. In addition, this same transporter is reduced in patients with, and mouse models of, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), suggesting a role for oligodendroglial MCT1 in pathogenesis. The role of oligodendroglia in axon function and neuron survival has been elusive; this study defines a new fundamental mechanism by which oligodendroglia support neurons and axons.
Chloride channels represent a group of targets for major clinical indications. However, molecular screening for chloride channel modulators has proven to be difficult and time-consuming as approaches essentially rely on the use of fluorescent dyes or invasive patch-clamp techniques which do not lend themselves to the screening of large sets of compounds. To address this problem, we have developed a non-invasive optical method, based on digital holographic microcopy (DHM), allowing monitoring of ion channel activity without using any electrode or fluorescent dye. To illustrate this approach, GABAA mediated chloride currents have been monitored with DHM. Practically, we show that DHM can non-invasively provide the quantitative determination of transmembrane chloride fluxes mediated by the activation of chloride channels associated with GABAA receptors. Indeed through an original algorithm, chloride currents elicited by application of appropriate agonists of the GABAA receptor can be derived from the quantitative phase signal recorded with DHM. Finally, chloride currents can be determined and pharmacologically characterized non-invasively simultaneously on a large cellular sampling by DHM.
Follow-up studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest outcomes ranging from recovery to chronic illness or death, but predictors of outcome have not been consistently identified. We tested 5151 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in approximately 350 candidate genes for association with recovery from ED in 1878 women. Initial analyses focused on a strictly defined discovery cohort of women who were over age 25 years, carried a lifetime diagnosis of an ED, and for whom data were available regarding the presence (n=361 ongoing symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘ill') or absence (n=115 no symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘recovered') of ED symptoms. An intronic SNP (rs17536211) in GABRG1 showed the strongest statistical evidence of association (p=4.63 × 10−6, false discovery rate (FDR)=0.021, odds ratio (OR)=0.46). We replicated these findings in a more liberally defined cohort of women age 25 years or younger (n=464 ill, n=107 recovered; p=0.0336, OR=0.68; combined sample p=4.57 × 10−6, FDR=0.0049, OR=0.55). Enrichment analyses revealed that GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) SNPs were over-represented among SNPs associated at p<0.05 in both the discovery (Z=3.64, p=0.0003) and combined cohorts (Z=2.07, p=0.0388). In follow-up phenomic association analyses with a third independent cohort (n=154 ED cases, n=677 controls), rs17536211 was associated with trait anxiety (p=0.049), suggesting a possible mechanism through which this variant may influence ED outcome. These findings could provide new insights into the development of more effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients.
GABA; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphisms; eating/metabolic disorders; GABA; eating/metabolic disorders; neurogenetics; biological psychiatry; genetic association; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; phenomic association
Red blood cells (RBCs) present unique reversible shape deformability, essential for both function and survival, resulting notably in cell membrane fluctuations (CMF). These CMF have been subject of many studies in order to obtain a better understanding of these remarkable biomechanical membrane properties altered in some pathological states including blood diseases. In particular the discussion over the thermal or metabolic origin of the CMF has led in the past to a large number of investigations and modeling. However, the origin of the CMF is still debated. In this article, we present an analysis of the CMF of RBCs by combining digital holographic microscopy (DHM) with an orthogonal subspace decomposition of the imaging data. These subspace components can be reliably identified and quantified as the eigenmode basis of CMF that minimizes the deformation energy of the RBC structure. By fitting the observed fluctuation modes with a theoretical dynamic model, we find that the CMF are mainly governed by the bending elasticity of the membrane and that shear and tension elasticities have only a marginal influence on the membrane fluctations of the discocyte RBC. Further, our experiments show that the role of ATP as a driving force of CMF is questionable. ATP, however, seems to be required to maintain the unique biomechanical properties of the RBC membrane that lead to thermally excited CMF.
Astrocytes have various important roles in brain physiology. To further elucidate the details of astrocytic functions under normal and pathological states, astrocyte-specific measurements are mandatory. For studying brain energy metabolism, the use of the astrocyte-specific energy substrate acetate has proven to be of great value. Since the first applications of labeled acetate for brain studies about 50 years ago, numerous methodologies have been developed and employed in compartment-specific investigations of brain metabolism. Here, we provide an overview of these different methodological approaches and review studies employing acetate labeled with the most commonly used carbon isotopes.
acetate; astrocytes; brain imaging; energy metabolism; kinetic modeling
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic
We report that in the rat hippocampus learning leads to a significant increase in extracellular lactate levels, which derive from glycogen, an energy reserve selectively localized in astrocytes. Astrocytic glycogen breakdown and lactate release are essential for long-term but not short-term memory formation, and for the maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic strength elicited in-vivo. Disrupting the expression of the astrocytic lactate transporters monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) or MCT1 causes amnesia, which, like LTP impairment, is rescued by lactate but not equicaloric glucose. Disrupting the expression of the neuronal lactate transporter MCT2 also leads to amnesia that is unaffected by either L-lactate or glucose, suggesting that lactate import into neurons is necessary for long-term memory. Glycogenolysis and astrocytic lactate transporters are also critical for the induction of molecular changes required for memory formation, including the induction of phospho-CREB, Arc and phospho-cofilin. We conclude that astrocyte-neuron lactate transport is required for long-term memory formation.
Digital holography provides a non-invasive measurement of the quantitative phase shifts induced by cells in culture, which can be related to cell volume changes. It has been shown previously that regulation of cell volume, in particular as it relates to ionic homeostasis, is crucially involved in the activation/inactivation of the cell death processes. We thus present here an application of digital holographic microscopy (DHM) dedicated to early and label-free detection of cell death.
Methods and Findings
We provide quantitative measurements of phase signal obtained on mouse cortical neurons, and caused by early neuronal cell volume regulation triggered by excitotoxic concentrations of L-glutamate. We show that the efficiency of this early regulation of cell volume detected by DHM, is correlated with the occurrence of subsequent neuronal death assessed with the widely accepted trypan blue method for detection of cell viability.
The determination of the phase signal by DHM provides a simple and rapid optical method for the early detection of cell death.
Extensive population-based genome-wide association studies have identified an association between the FTO gene and BMI; however, the mechanism of action is still unknown. To determine whether FTO may influence weight regulation through psychological and behavioral factors, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the FTO gene were genotyped in 1085 individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 677 healthy weight controls from the international Price Foundation Genetic Studies of Eating Disorders. Each SNP was tested in association with eating disorder phenotypes and measures that have previously been associated with eating behavior pathology: trait anxiety, harm-avoidance, novelty seeking, impulsivity, obsessionality, compulsivity, and concern over mistakes. After appropriate correction for multiple comparisons, no significant associations between individual FTO gene SNPs and eating disorder phenotypes or related eating behavior pathology were identified in cases or controls. Thus, this study found no evidence that FTO gene variants associated with weight regulation in the general population are associated with eating disorder phenotypes in AN participants or matched controls.
Recent years have seen a surge in mathematical modeling of the various aspects of neuron–astrocyte interactions, and the field of brain energy metabolism is no exception in that regard. Despite the advent of biophysical models in the field, the long-lasting debate on the role of lactate in brain energy metabolism is still unresolved. Quite the contrary, it has been ported to the world of differential equations. Here, we summarize the present state of this discussion from the modeler's point of view and bring some crucial points to the attention of the non-mathematically proficient reader.
astrocytes; glucose; lactate; mathematical modeling; neuronal–glial interaction
Neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Huntington's diseases and schizophrenia have been associated with a deficit in glutathione (GSH). In particular, a polymorphism in the gene of glutamate cysteine ligase modulatory subunit (GCLM) is associated with schizophrenia. GSH is the most important intracellular antioxidant and is necessary for the removal of reactive by-products generated by the utilization of glucose for energy supply. Furthermore, glucose metabolism through the pentose phosphate pathway is a major source of NADPH, the cofactor necessary for the regeneration of reduced glutathione. This study aims at investigating glucose metabolism in cultured astrocytes from GCLM knockout mice, which show decreased GSH levels. No difference in the basal metabolism of glucose was observed between wild-type and knockout cells. In contrast, glycogen levels were lower and its turnover was higher in knockout astrocytes. These changes were accompanied by a decrease in the expression of the genes involved in its synthesis and degradation, including the protein targeting to glycogen. During an oxidative challenge induced by tert-Butylhydroperoxide, wild-type cells increased their glycogen mobilization and glucose uptake. However, knockout astrocytes were unable to mobilize glycogen following the same stress and they could increase their glucose utilization only following a major oxidative insult. Altogether, these results show that glucose metabolism and glycogen utilization are dysregulated in astrocytes showing a chronic deficit in GSH, suggesting that alterations of a fundamental aspect of brain energy metabolism is caused by GSH deficit and may therefore be relevant to metabolic dysfunctions observed in schizophrenia.
In this article we introduce JULIDE, a software toolkit developed to perform the 3D reconstruction, intensity normalization, volume standardization by 3D image registration and voxel-wise statistical analysis of autoradiographs of mouse brain sections. This software tool has been developed in the open-source ITK software framework and is freely available under a GPL license. The article presents the complete image processing chain from raw data acquisition to 3D statistical group analysis. Results of the group comparison in the context of a study on spatial learning are shown as an illustration of the data that can be obtained with this tool.
We performed association studies with 5,151 SNPs that were judged as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN) based on location under reported linkage peaks, previous results in the literature (182 candidate genes), brain expression, biological plausibility, and estrogen responsivity. We employed a case–control design that tested each SNP individually as well as haplotypes derived from these SNPs in 1,085 case individuals with AN diagnoses and 677 control individuals. We also performed separate association analyses using three increasingly restrictive case definitions for AN: all individuals with any subtype of AN (All AN: n = 1,085); individuals with AN with no binge eating behavior (AN with No Binge Eating: n = 687); and individuals with the restricting subtype of AN (Restricting AN: n = 421). After accounting for multiple comparisons, there were no statistically significant associations for any individual SNP or haplotype block with any definition of illness. These results underscore the importance of large samples to yield appropriate power to detect genotypic differences in individuals with AN and also motivate complementary approaches involving Genome-Wide Association (GWA) studies, Copy Number Variation (CNV) analyses, sequencing-based rare variant discovery assays, and pathway-based analysis in order to make up for deficiencies in traditional candidate gene approaches to AN.
single nucleotide polymorphisms; probands; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa
Although Glycogen (Glyc) is the main carbohydrate storage component, the role of Glyc in the brain during prolonged wakefulness is not clear. The aim of this study was to determine brain Glyc concentration ([ ]) and turnover time (τ) in euglycemic conscious and undisturbed rats, compared to rats maintained awake for 5 h.
To measure the metabolism of [1-13C]-labeled Glc into Glyc, 23 rats received a [1-13C]-labeled Glc solution as drink (10% weight per volume in tap water) ad libitum as their sole source of exogenous carbon for a “labeling period” of either 5 (n=13), 24 (n=5) or 48 h (n=5). Six of the rats labeled for 5 h were continuously maintained awake by acoustic, tactile and olfactory stimuli during the labeling period, which resulted in slightly elevated corticosterone levels. Brain [Glyc] measured biochemically after focused microwave fixation in the rats maintained awake (3.9±0.2 μmol/g, n=6) was not significantly different from that of the control group (4.0±0.1 μmol/g, n=7; t-test, P>0.5). To account for potential variations in plasma Glc isotopic enrichment (IE), Glyc IE was normalized by N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) IE. A simple mathematical model was developed to derive brain Glyc turnover time as 5.3 h with a fit error of 3.2 h and NAA turnover time as 15.6 h with a fit error of 6.5 h, in the control rats. A faster τGlyc (2.9 h with a fit error of 1.2 h) was estimated in the rats maintained awake for 5 h.
In conclusion, 5 h of prolonged wakefulness mainly activates glycogen metabolism, but has minimal effect on brain [Glyc].
brain metabolism; modeling; nuclear magnetic resonance
Functional activation protocols are widely applied for the study of brain-cognition relations. Only few take advantage of the intrinsic characteristics of SPECT, particularly those allowing cognitive assessment outside of the camera, in settings close to the standard clinical or laboratory ones. The purpose of the study was to assess the feasibility of a split-dose activation protocol with 99mTc-HMPAO using low irradiation dose.
Materials and methods
A two-scans protocol was applied to 12 healthy young volunteers using 270 MBq of 99mTc-HMPAO per scan, with each image associated to a particular experimental condition of the verbal n-back working memory task (0-back, 2-back). Subtraction method was used to identify regional brain activity related to the task.
Voxel-wise statistical analysis showed left lateralized activity associated with the 2-back task, compared to the 0-back task. Activated regions, mainly prefrontal and parietal, were similar to those observed in previous fMRI and 15O-PET studies.
The results support the use of 99mTc-HMPAO SPECT for the investigation of brain-cognition relations and demonstrate the feasibility of optimal quality images despite low radiopharmaceutical doses. The findings also acknowledge the use of HMPAO as a radioligand to capture neuro-energetic modulations linked to cognitive activity. They encourage extending the application of the described activation protocol to clinical populations.
99mTc-HMPAO SPECT; Brain imaging; Activation study; Working memory; Protocol validation
Astrocytes are the main neural cell type responsible for the maintenance of brain homeostasis. They form highly organized anatomical domains that are interconnected into extensive networks. These features, along with the expression of a wide array of receptors, transporters, and ion channels, ideally position them to sense and dynamically modulate neuronal activity. Astrocytes cooperate with neurons on several levels, including neurotransmitter trafficking and recycling, ion homeostasis, energy metabolism, and defense against oxidative stress. The critical dependence of neurons upon their constant support confers astrocytes with intrinsic neuroprotective properties which are discussed here. Conversely, pathogenic stimuli may disturb astrocytic function, thus compromising neuronal functionality and viability. Using neuroinflammation, Alzheimer's disease, and hepatic encephalopathy as examples, we discuss how astrocytic defense mechanisms may be overwhelmed in pathological conditions, contributing to disease progression.
astrocyte; astrocyte-neuron interaction; brain homeostasis; neuroinflammation; Alzheimer's disease; hepatic encephalopathy
Energy demand is an important constraint on neural signaling. Several methods have been proposed to assess the energy budget of the brain based on a bottom-up approach in which the energy demand of individual biophysical processes are first estimated independently and then summed up to compute the brain's total energy budget. Here, we address this question using a novel approach that makes use of published datasets that reported average cerebral glucose and oxygen utilization in humans and rodents during different activation states. Our approach allows us (1) to decipher neuron-glia compartmentalization in energy metabolism and (2) to compute a precise state-dependent energy budget for the brain. Under the assumption that the fraction of energy used for signaling is proportional to the cycling of neurotransmitters, we find that in the activated state, most of the energy (∼80%) is oxidatively produced and consumed by neurons to support neuron-to-neuron signaling. Glial cells, while only contributing for a small fraction to energy production (∼6%), actually take up a significant fraction of glucose (50% or more) from the blood and provide neurons with glucose-derived energy substrates. Our results suggest that glycolysis occurs for a significant part in astrocytes whereas most of the oxygen is utilized in neurons. As a consequence, a transfer of glucose-derived metabolites from glial cells to neurons has to take place. Furthermore, we find that the amplitude of this transfer is correlated to (1) the activity level of the brain; the larger the activity, the more metabolites are shuttled from glia to neurons and (2) the oxidative activity in astrocytes; with higher glial pyruvate metabolism, less metabolites are shuttled from glia to neurons. While some of the details of a bottom-up biophysical approach have to be simplified, our method allows for a straightforward assessment of the brain's energy budget from macroscopic measurements with minimal underlying assumptions.
astrocyte-neuron interactions; brain energy metabolism; brain energy budget; glucose; oxygen
For a long time now, glucose has been thought to be the main, if not the sole substrate for brain energy metabolism. Recent data nevertheless suggest that other molecules, such as monocarboxylates (lactate and pyruvate mainly) could be suitable substrates. Although monocarboxylates poorly cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), such substrates could replace glucose if produced locally.
The two key enzymatiques systems required for the production of these monocarboxylates are lactate dehydrogenase (LDH; EC220.127.116.11) that catalyses the interconversion of lactate and pyruvate and the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex that irreversibly funnels pyruvate towards the mitochondrial TCA and oxydative phosphorylation.
In this article, we show, with monoclonal antibodies applied to post-mortem human brain tissues, that the typically glycolytic isoenzyme of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH-5; also called LDHA or LDHM) is selectively present in astrocytes, and not in neurons, whereas pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is mainly detected in neurons and barely in astrocytes. At the regional level, the distribution of the LDH-5 immunoreactive astrocytes is laminar and corresponds to regions of maximal 2-deoxyglucose uptake in the occipital cortex and hippocampus. In hippocampus, we observed that the distribution of the oxidative enzyme PDH was enriched in the neurons of the stratum pyramidale and stratum granulosum of CA1 through CA4, whereas the glycolytic enzyme LDH-5 was enriched in astrocytes of the stratum moleculare, the alveus and the white matter, revealing not only cellular, but also regional, selective distributions. The fact that LDH-5 immunoreactivity was high in astrocytes and occurred in regions where the highest uptake of 2-deoxyglucose was observed suggests that glucose uptake followed by lactate production may principally occur in these regions.
These observations reveal a metabolic segregation, not only at the cellular but also at the regional level, that support the notion of metabolic compartmentalization between astrocytes and neurons, whereby lactate produced by astrocytes could be oxidized by neurons.
With an ever-increasing understanding of the brain mechanisms associated with core human attributes and values, there is an increasing public interest in the results of neuroscience research and the ways in which that new knowledge will be used. Here, we present perspectives on engaging the public on these issues on an international scale, the role of the media, and prospects for the new field of neuroethics as both a focus and a driver of these efforts.