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Metabolic Flux and Compartmentation Analysis in the Brain In vivo

DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2013.00156

Keywords: brain energy metabolism, neurotransmitter metabolism, neurotransmission, mathematical modeling, MRS

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Through significant developments and progresses in the last two decades, in vivo localized nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) became a method of choice to probe brain metabolic pathways in a non-invasive way. Beside the measurement of the total concentration of more than 20 metabolites, 1H MRS can be used to quantify the dynamics of substrate transport across the blood-brain barrier by varying the plasma substrate level. On the other hand, 13C MRS with the infusion of 13C-enriched substrates enables the characterization of brain oxidative metabolism and neurotransmission by incorporation of 13C in the different carbon positions of amino acid neurotransmitters. The quantitative determination of the biochemical reactions involved in these processes requires the use of appropriate metabolic models, whose level of details is strongly related to the amount of data accessible with in vivo MRS. In the present work, we present the different steps involved in the elaboration of a mathematical model of a given brain metabolic process and its application to the experimental data in order to extract quantitative brain metabolic rates. We review the recent advances in the localized measurement of brain glucose transport and compartmentalized brain energy metabolism, and how these reveal mechanistic details on glial support to glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons.


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