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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Sep;31(9):394-401. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Neuronal activity in vitro and the in vivo reality: the role of energy homeostasis.

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Inserm-U751, Université de la Méditerranée, 13005 Marseille, France.


The energy demands of the brain are exceptionally high compared with any other organ of the body. A complex control system maintains brain energy homeostasis, mobilizing appropriate energy substrates to satisfy the energy requirements. It is a common belief that many fundamental neuronal properties, including those governing excitability, are dependent on the energy supply. However, surprisingly little is known about how the specific factors underlying neuronal activity are affected by energy status. Most of these parameters have been studied in acute brain slices, in which the homeostatic system is absent and neurons in the artificial extracellular milieu are arbitrarily supplied with energy substrates. In this paper, we discuss the relationships between availability of energy substrates and neuronal excitability, and suggest that for in vitro studies, it is crucial to optimize the composition of the energy pool in the extracellular milieu.

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