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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 26;110(9):3549-54. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1214912110. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Cortical energy demands of signaling and nonsignaling components in brain are conserved across mammalian species and activity levels.

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Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC) and Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The continuous need for ion gradient restoration across the cell membrane, a prerequisite for synaptic transmission and conduction, is believed to be a major factor for brain's high oxidative demand. However, do energy requirements of signaling and nonsignaling components of cortical neurons and astrocytes vary with activity levels and across species? We derived oxidative ATP demand associated with signaling (P(s)) and nonsignaling (P(ns)) components in the cerebral cortex using species-specific physiologic and anatomic data. In rat, we calculated glucose oxidation rates from layer-specific neuronal activity measured across different states, spanning from isoelectricity to awake and sensory stimulation. We then compared these calculated glucose oxidation rates with measured glucose metabolic data for the same states as reported by 2-deoxy-glucose autoradiography. Fixed values for P(s) and P(ns) were able to predict the entire range of states in the rat. We then calculated glucose oxidation rates from human EEG data acquired under various conditions using fixed P(s) and P(ns) values derived for the rat. These calculated metabolic data in human cerebral cortex compared well with glucose metabolism measured by PET. Independent of species, linear relationship was established between neuronal activity and neuronal oxidative demand beyond isoelectricity. Cortical signaling requirements dominated energy demand in the awake state, whereas nonsignaling requirements were ∼20% of awake value. These predictions are supported by (13)C magnetic resonance spectroscopy results. We conclude that mitochondrial energy support for signaling and nonsignaling components in cerebral cortex are conserved across activity levels in mammalian species.

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