Sorbitol pathway activity and utilization of polyols in astroglia-rich primary cultures

Glia. 1990;3(4):277-82. doi: 10.1002/glia.440030407.


Astroglia-rich rat primary cultures can be grown in a glucose-free medium containing 25 mM sorbitol. After 10 days under these conditions, the total number of cells and DNA content are reduced to 50-60% of those of control cultures, but remain constant thereafter. The specific activities of the sorbitol pathway enzymes, sorbitol dehydrogenase and aldose reductase, are increased 2.5-fold and unchanged, respectively, if the cells are grown in the presence of sorbitol instead of glucose. Treatment with the aldose reductase inhibitor sorbinil does not decrease the number of cells cultured in the glucose-free medium in the presence of sorbitol. Fructose is as good a substrate for the glial cells as sorbitol, whereas out of a number of other polyols tested only xylitol can support the primary cultures for more than 3 days. Neither neuron-rich rat brain primary cultures nor rat glioma cells can be cultured in the sorbitol-containing medium in the absence of glucose. With sorbitol substituting for glucose in the culture medium, effects of glucose deprivation on cellular functions like sugar transport and metabolism can be investigated in glial cultures for an extended period of time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Reductase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aldehyde Reductase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media / pharmacology
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Imidazolidines*
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sorbitol / metabolism*
  • Sorbitol / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Xylitol / metabolism
  • Xylitol / pharmacology


  • Culture Media
  • Imidazoles
  • Imidazolidines
  • Fructose
  • Sorbitol
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase
  • Aldehyde Reductase
  • sorbinil
  • Xylitol