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J Neurochem. 1994 Jun;62(6):2187-94.

NMR spectroscopy of cultured astrocytes: effects of glutamine and the gliotoxin fluorocitrate.

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Division for Environmental Toxicology, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Kjeller.


Glial synthesis of glutamine, citrate, and other carbon skeletons, as well as metabolic effects of the gliotoxin fluorocitrate, were studied in cultured astrocytes with 13C and 31P NMR spectroscopy. [2-13C]Acetate and [1-13C]glucose were used as labeled precursors. In some experiments glutamine (2.5 mM) was added to the culture medium. Fluorocitrate (20 microM) inhibited the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle without affecting the level of ATP. The net export of glutamine was reduced significantly, and that of citrate increased similarly, consistent with an inhibition of aconitase. Fluorocitrate (100 microM) inhibited TCA cycle activity even more and (without addition of glutamine) caused a 40% reduction in the level of ATP. In the presence of 2.5 mM glutamine, 100 microM fluorocitrate did not affect ATP levels, although glutamine synthesis was nearly fully blocked. The consumption of the added glutamine increased with increasing concentrations of fluorocitrate, whereas the consumption of glucose decreased. This shows that glutamine fed into the TCA cycle, substituting for glucose as an energy substrate. These findings may explain how fluorocitrate selectively lowers the level of glutamine and inhibits glutamine formation in the brain in vivo, viz., not by depleting glial cells of ATP, but by causing a rerouting of 2-oxoglutarate from glutamine synthesis into the TCA cycle during inhibition of aconitase. Analysis of the 13C labeling of the C-2 versus the C-4 positions in glutamine obtained with [2-13C]acetate revealed that 57% of the TCA cycle intermediates were lost per turn of the cycle.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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