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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Apr 12;102(15):5588-93. Epub 2005 Apr 4.

The contribution of GABA to glutamate/glutamine cycling and energy metabolism in the rat cortex in vivo.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Previous studies have shown that the glutamate/glutamine (Glu/Gln) neurotransmitter cycle and neuronal glucose oxidation are proportional (1:1), with increasing neuronal activity above isoelectricity. GABA, a product of Glu metabolism, is synthesized from astroglial Gln and contributes to total Glu/Gln neurotransmitter cycling, although the fraction contributed by GABA is unknown. In the present study, we used (13)C NMR spectroscopy together with i.v. infusions of [1,6-(13)C(2)]glucose and [2-(13)C]acetate to separately determine rates of Glu/Gln and GABA/Gln cycling and their respective tricarboxylic acid cycles in the rat cortex under conditions of halothane anesthesia and pentobarbital-induced isoelectricity. Under 1% halothane anesthesia, GABA/Gln cycle flux comprised 23% of total (Glu plus GABA) neurotransmitter cycling and 18% of total neuronal tricarboxylic acid cycle flux. In isoelectric cortex, glucose oxidation was reduced >3-fold in glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, and neurotransmitter cycling was below detection. Hence, in both cell types, the primary energetic costs are associated with neurotransmission, which increase together as cortical activity is increased. The contribution of GABAergic neurons and inhibition to cortical energy metabolism has broad implications for the interpretation of functional imaging signals.

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