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Chem Senses. 2011 Nov;36(9):771-80. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr052. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Expression and distribution of facilitative glucose (GLUTs) and monocarboxylate/H+ (MCTs) transporters in rat olfactory epithelia.

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Bioscience Research Bldg R-1239, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


Cell-to-cell metabolic interactions are crucial for the functioning of the nervous system and depend on the differential expression of glucose transporters (GLUTs) and monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs). The olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and supporting cells (SCs) of the olfactory epithelium exhibit a marked polarization and a tight morphological interrelationship, suggesting an active metabolic interaction. We examined the expression and localization of MCTs and GLUTs in the olfactory mucosa and found a stereotyped pattern of expression. ORNs exhibited GLUT1 labeling in soma, dendrites, and axon. SCs displayed GLUT1 labeling throughout their cell length, whereas MCT1 and GLUT3 localize to their apical portion, possibly including the microvilli. Additionally, GLUT1 and MCT1 were detected in endothelial cells and GLUT1, GLUT3, and MCT2 in the cells of the Bowman's gland. Our observations suggest an energetic coupling between SCs and Bowman's gland cells, where glucose crossing the blood-mucosa barrier through GLUT1 is incorporated by these epithelial cells. Once in the SCs, glucose can be metabolized to lactate, which could be transported by MCTs into the Bowman's gland duct, where it can be used as metabolic fuel. Furthermore, SCs may export glucose and lactate to the mucous layer, where they may serve as possible energy supply to the cilia.

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