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Am J Physiol. 1992 Apr;262(4 Pt 2):R595-603.

Oxidative and glycolytic pathways in rat (newborn and adult) and turtle brain: role during anoxia.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.


Using enzyme histochemistry and in vitro electrophysiological recordings in brain slices, we studied 1) the relative activity of cytochrome c oxidase (Cytox) and hexokinase (HK) and 2) cellular function by examining ionic homeostasis across cell membranes in the turtle and newborn (5 days old) and adult rat central nervous system. We found that Cytox was higher in the rostral than in the caudal brain regions of the adult rat and that the activity in the newborn is at least as high as in the adult rat. In contrast, adult turtles had very low Cytox activity throughout the central nervous system. Compared with that in the adult rat, HK activity in the newborn was generally lower in the rostral brain and cerebellum but similar or higher in the brain stem and spinal cord. In the turtle, HK activity was higher in the cerebellum, brain stem, and ventral horn of the spinal cord than in those in the rat. During anoxia, extracellular K+ increased by approximately 10-fold (from 3.2 to approximately 32 mM) in the adult brain stem but only by 2.6 mM in newborn rats. After glycolysis was blocked with iodoacetic acid (10-20 mM), extracellular K+ increased remarkably in both adult and newborn rats to approximately 35 mM. In contrast, the turtle brain tissue showed a slight and insignificant increase in extracellular K+ during complete anoxia or with iodoacetic acid; there was a modest increase in K+ when anoxia and iodoacetate were administered together. We conclude that 1) the newborn rat brain must rely either on higher glycolytic capacity or on a reduction of metabolic rate during O2 deprivation and 2) the turtle brain can subsist on nonglucose fuels or on fuels not requiring the citric acid cycle and the electron transfer chain.

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