Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2000 Mar 1;20(5):1809-21.

Mechanisms of glutamate metabolic signaling in retinal glial (Müller) cells.

Author information

Department of Physiology, University of Geneva Medical School, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Retinal Müller (glial) cells metabolize glucose to lactate, which is preferentially taken up by photoreceptor neurons as fuel for their oxidative metabolism. We explored whether lactate supply to neurons is a glial function controlled by neuronal signals. For this, we used subcellular fluorescence imaging and either amperometric or optical biosensors to monitor metabolic responses simultaneously from mitochondrial and cytosolic compartments of individual Müller cells from salamander retina. Our results demonstrate that lactate production and release is controlled by the combined action of glutamate and NH(4)(+), both at micromolar concentrations. Transport of glutamate by a high-affinity carrier can produce in Müller cells a rapid rise of glutamate concentration. In our isolated Müller cells, glutamine synthetase (GS) converted transported glutamate to glutamine that was released. This reaction, predominant when enough NH(4)(+) is available, was limited at micromolar concentrations of NH(4)(+), and more glutamate entered then as substrate into the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA). Increased production of glutamine by GS leads to increased utilization of ATP, some of which is generated glycolytically. Methionine sulfoximine, a specific inhibitor of GS, suppressed the stimulatory effect of glutamate and NH(4)(+) on glycolysis and induced massive entry of glutamate into the TCA cycle. The rate of glutamine production also determined the amount of pyruvate transaminated by glutamate to alanine. Lactate, alanine, and glutamine can be taken up and metabolized by photoreceptor neurons. We conclude that a major function of Müller glial cells is to nourish retinal neurons and to metabolize the neurotoxic ammonia and glutamate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center