OBJECTIVE - Glucose is the major energy substrate of the brain and crucial for normal brain function. In diabetes, the brain is subject to episodes of hypo- and hyperglycemia resulting in acute outcomes ranging from confusion to seizures, while chronic metabolic dysregulation puts patients at increased risk for depression and Alzheimer's disease. In the present study, we aimed to determine how glucose is metabolized in different regions of the brain using imaging mass spectrometry (IMS).
METHODS - To examine the relative abundance of glucose and other metabolites in the brain, mouse brain sections were subjected to imaging mass spectrometry at a resolution of 100 μm. This was correlated with immunohistochemistry, qPCR, western blotting and enzyme assays of dissected brain regions to determine the relative contributions of the glycolytic and pentose phosphate pathways to regional glucose metabolism.
RESULTS - In brain, there are significant regional differences in glucose metabolism, with low levels of hexose bisphosphate (a glycolytic intermediate) and high levels of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and PPP metabolite hexose phosphate in thalamus compared to cortex. The ratio of ATP to ADP is significantly higher in white matter tracts, such as corpus callosum, compared to less myelinated areas. While the brain is able to maintain normal ratios of hexose phosphate, hexose bisphosphate, ATP, and ADP during fasting, fasting causes a large increase in cortical and hippocampal lactate.
CONCLUSION - These data demonstrate the importance of direct measurement of metabolic intermediates to determine regional differences in brain glucose metabolism and illustrate the strength of imaging mass spectrometry for investigating the impact of changing metabolic states on brain function at a regional level with high resolution.
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