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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 1999;75:25-8.

Evidence for time-dependent glutamate-mediated glycolysis in head-injured patients: a microdialysis study.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, USA.


In the brain, lactate is not only a marker of anaerobic glycolysis due to hypoxia/ischemia, but also a neuronal energy source which is provided by glutamate-induced astrocytic glycolysis. In the present study we wanted to investigate the relationship between glutamate release and lactate production during the entire time-course and during three time periods of microdialytic monitoring in 54 severely head injured patients. Within-subject Spearman rank correlations were calculated in each period for glutamate and lactate, for each patient and the mean of all correlation coefficients were analyzed for difference from zero by a one-sample t-test. The results show a strong overall positive relationship between glutamate and lactate. However, during the first 12 hours after injury, there was no significant correlation. Thereafter, good correlation was seen. The splitting of patients into groups with good (Glasgow Outcome Scale; GOS 0-2) and poor outcome (GOS 3-4) showed a similar strong correlation for patients with good outcome, but this was lost for patients with poor outcome. The results clearly indicate that glutamate "drives" astrocytic lactate production in head-injured patients. The contribution of glutamate to overall lactate release is thus time-dependent. During the first 12 hours after injury, factors such as hypoxia, ischemia or edema overshadowed glutamate-induced glycolysis in astrocytes. In addition, the effect of glutamate is more pronounced in patients with good outcome.

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