Monocarboxylate transporter (MCT1) abundance in brains of suckling and adult rats: a quantitative electron microscopic immunogold study

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1999 Mar 12;113(1-2):47-54. doi: 10.1016/s0165-3806(98)00188-6.


Transcellular transport of energy substrates across the vascular endothelial cells of the brain is accomplished by integral membrane carrier proteins, such as the glucose transporter GLUT1 and the monocarboxylic acid transporter MCT1. The abundance of these proteins may vary depending on age and nutritional status. In this study we compared the expression of MCT1 in cerebral cortex of suckling and adult rats to determine whether the former, which use considerably more monocarboxylates such as lactate and ketone bodies as fuel than do older rats, correspondingly express more MCT1 than adults. Using electron microscopic immunogold methods, we found that 17-day old suckling rat pups had 25 times more MCT1 labeling in the membranes of capillary endothelial cells than adults. This transporter was nearly equally distributed in luminal and abluminal membranes with less than 10% of the immunogold particles in the endothelial cytoplasmic compartment. The suckling rats also had 15 times more immunogold particles associated with pericyte membranes and 19 times heavier labeling of membranes associated with astrocytic end feet adjacent to microvessels. Neuropil and choroid plexus were lightly labeled. Some MCT1-positive astrocyte and neuron cell bodies were observed, suggesting active synthesis of MCT1 by these cells. The potential for regulation of expression of MCTs by dietary or other factors may have important consequences for the progression and treatment of cerebrovascular disorders and other diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Suckling
  • Astrocytes / chemistry
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropil / chemistry
  • Neuropil / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters