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Neuroscience. 2007 Mar 2;145(1):11-9. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Is lactate food for neurons? Comparison of monocarboxylate transporter subtypes in brain and muscle.

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Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, and Department of Anatomy, IBM, University of Oslo, Domus Medica, Room 1293, Songsvannsveien 9, POB 1105 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway.


Intercellular monocarboxylate transport is important, particularly in tissues with high energy demands, such as brain and muscle. In skeletal muscle, it is well established that glycolytic fast twitch muscle fibers produce lactate, which is transported out of the cell through the monocarboxylate transporter (MCT) 4. Lactate is then taken up and oxidized by the oxidative slow twitch muscle fibers, which express MCT1. In the brain it is still questioned whether lactate produced in astrocytes is taken up and oxidized by neurons upon activation. Several studies have reported that astrocytes express MCT4, whereas neurons express MCT2. By comparing the localizations of MCTs in oxidative and glycolytic compartments I here give support to the idea that there is a lactate shuttle in the brain similar to that in muscle. This conclusion is based on studies in rodents using high resolution immunocytochemical methods at the light and electron microscopical levels.

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