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J Biol Chem. 1990 Aug 5;265(22):12916-26.

Cerebral metabolism of [1,2-13C2]acetate as detected by in vivo and in vitro 13C NMR.

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  • 1Biocenter, University of Basel, Switzerland.


The metabolism of [1,2-13C2]acetate in rat brain was studied by in vivo and in vitro 13C NMR spectroscopy, in particular by taking advantage of the homonuclear 13C-13C spin coupling patterns. Well nourished rats were infused with [1,2-13C2]acetate or [1-13C]acetate in the jugular vein, and the in situ kinetics of 13C labeling during the infusion period was followed by 13C NMR techniques. The in vivo 13C NMR spectra showed signals from (i) the C-1 carbon of [1,2-13C2] acetate or [1-13C]acetate, (ii) 13CO3H-, and (iii) the natural abundance 13C carbons of sufficiently mobile fatty acids. Methanol/HCl/perchloric acid extracts of the brains were prepared and were further analyzed by high resolution 13C NMR. The homonuclear 13C-13C spin coupling patterns after infusion of [1,2-13C2]acetate showed very different isotopomer populations in glutamate, glutamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. Analyzing the relative proportions of these isotopomers revealed (i) two different glutamate compartments in the rat brain characterized by the presence and absence, respectively, of glutamine synthase activity, (ii) two different tricarboxylic acid cycles, one preferentially metabolizing [(1,2-13C2]acetate, the other mainly using unlabeled acetyl-coenzyme A, (iii) a hitherto unknown cerebral pyruvate recycling system associated with the tricarboxylic acid cycle, metabolizing primarily unlabeled acetyl-coenzyme A, and (iv) a predominant production of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the glutamate compartment lacking glutamine synthase.

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