The neurological consequences of diabetes mellitus have recently been receiving greater attention in both clinical and experimental settings. The deleterious effect of hyperglycemia and altered oxidative substrate availability on the diabetic brain is the subject of many studies. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of the altered metabolic environment, namely, hyperglycemia and hyperketonemia, on glucose metabolism in the diabetic brain. More specifically, we examined the effect of diabetes on the glucose flux via the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and pyruvate carboxylase (PC) pathways and subsequent metabolism in the tricarboxylic acid cycles in neurons and glia. To this end, [U-(13)C]glucose was infused into the circulation of alloxan-induced diabetic young adult rabbits, and the [(13)C]glucose metabolites were subsequently studied in brain extracts by (13)C-NMR. Significantly elevated brain glucose levels were found. In the hyperketonemic rabbits, elevated cerebral levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-HBA) were found. Alterations in the labeling patterns of glutamine in the hyperketonemic group lead to the conclusion that the elevated beta-HBA levels inhibit glucose metabolism, mostly in glia. This results in accumulation of glucose in the diabetic brain. In addition, altered levels of glutamine, glutamate, and GABA were also attributed to the effect of beta-HBA on brain metabolism. The possible role of these metabolic perturbations in causing neurological damage remains to be investigated.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.