Saturday, February 02, 2019

Lactate: Is the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle scuppered?

You don't usually learn much from statements which you, personally, consider likely to be correct. Annoying statements are far more productive.

Working through Seyfried's paper

Mitochondrial Substrate-Level Phosphorylation as Energy Source for Glioblastoma: Review and Hypothesis

I came across this snippet which galled me a little:

"It is glucose and not lactate that primarily drives brain energy metabolism (Allen et al., 2005; Dienel, 2012; Nortley and Attwell, 2017), making it unlikely that lactate could serve as a major energy metabolite for neoplastic GBM cells with diminished OxPhos capacity".

Now, people will realise that the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle is more than a little inflammatory as a subject, to say the least. Currently it is not doing too well in the face of experimental data, which are not at all straightforward to obtain. I went to Nortley and Attwell as the most recent reference. As a rather pro-lactate shuttle sort of a person I found their straw-man setting up of the shuttle rather annoying but their data potentially convincing, though I am far from certain about this. Here is the link:

Control of brain energy supply by astrocytes

This left me wondering what more pro lactate-shuttle people might be thinking nowadays, so I went via the "see all" button to locate this commentary by Tang:

Brain activity-induced neuronal glucose uptake/glycolysis: Is the lactate shuttle not required?

which is a rather more circumspect but still accepts a decreasing probability that the lactate shuttle is in any way crucial to astrocyte-neuron energetic coupling. The silver lining was this link, used to point out that in Bl6 mice whole-brain lactate extraction from plasma is essentially zero under the reasonably normal physiological conditions studied:

Glucose feeds the TCA cycle via circulating lactate

The basic concept in the paper, that lactate is the predominant metabolic substrate for the TCA is fine to me but that the source of lactate is predominantly extracellular is very counterintuitive. But the data presented are quite convincing. So I'm interested. I think it needs a little aside before talking about the paper itself and the situation in the brain in particular, so I'll post some random thoughts before looking at the paper in more detail. The biggest down side to the paper is the authors' failure to mention Schurr, the main proponent of lactate as a redox-balanced product of glucose, a very deeply insightful and much neglected observation. But then Schurr is a serious proponent of the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle...



raphi said...

i've got some reading to do :)

Peter said...

Next post is written. It has some anabolism vs "housekeeping" insights. I'll proof read and hit send this evening...