Differentiation of glucose transport in human brain gray and white matter

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2001 May;21(5):483-92. doi: 10.1097/00004647-200105000-00002.


Localized 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has been applied to determine human brain gray matter and white matter glucose transport kinetics by measuring the steady-state glucose concentration under normoglycemia and two levels of hyperglycemia. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic measurements were simultaneously performed on three 12-mL volumes, containing predominantly gray or white matter. The exact volume compositions were determined from quantitative T1 relaxation magnetic resonance images. The absolute brain glucose concentration as a function of the plasma glucose level was fitted with two kinetic transport models, based on standard (irreversible) or reversible Michaelis-Menten kinetics. The steady-state brain glucose levels were similar for cerebral gray and white matter, although the white matter levels were consistently 15% to 20% higher. The ratio of the maximum glucose transport rate, V(max), to the cerebral metabolic utilization rate of glucose, CMR(Glc), was 3.2 +/- 0.10 and 3.9 +/- 0.15 for gray matter and white matter using the standard transport model and 1.8 +/- 0.10 and 2.2 +/- 0.12 for gray matter and white matter using the reversible transport model. The Michaelis-Menten constant K(m) was 6.2 +/- 0.85 and 7.3 +/- 1.1 mmol/L for gray matter and white matter in the standard model and 1.1 +/- 0.66 and 1.7 +/- 0.88 mmol/L in the reversible model. Taking into account the threefold lower rate of CMR(Glc) in white matter, this finding suggests that blood--brain barrier glucose transport activity is lower by a similar amount in white matter. The regulation of glucose transport activity at the blood--brain barrier may be an important mechanism for maintaining glucose homeostasis throughout the cerebral cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Transport
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose