Pyruvate incubation enhances glycogen stores and sustains neuronal function during subsequent glucose deprivation

Neurobiol Dis. 2012 Jan;45(1):177-87. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2011.08.002. Epub 2011 Aug 10.


The use of energy substrates, such as lactate and pyruvate, has been shown to improve synaptic function when administered during glucose deprivation. In the present study, we investigated whether prolonged incubation with monocarboxylate (pyruvate or lactate) prior rather than during glucose deprivation can also sustain synaptic and metabolic function. Pyruvate pre-incubation(3-4h) significantly prolonged (>25 min) the tolerance of rat hippocampal slices to delayed glucose deprivation compared to control and lactate pre-incubated slices, as revealed by field excitatory post synaptic potentials (fEPSPs); pre-incubation with pyruvate also reduced the marked decrease in NAD(P)H fluorescence resulting from glucose deprivation. Moreover, pyruvate exposure led to the enhancement of glycogen stores with time, compared to glucose alone (12 μmol/g tissue at 4h vs. 3.5 μmol/g tissue). Prolonged resistance to glucose deprivation following exogenous pyruvate incubation was prevented by glycogenolysis inhibitors, suggesting that enhanced glycogen mediates the delay in synaptic activity failure. The application of an adenosine A1 receptor antagonist enhanced glycogen utilization and prolonged the time to synaptic failure, further confirming this hypothesis of the importance of glycogen. Moreover, tissue levels of ATP were also significantly maintained during glucose deprivation in pyruvate pretreated slices compared to control and lactate. In summary, these experiments indicate that pyruvate exposure prior to glucose deprivation significantly increased the energy buffering capacity of hippocampal slices, particularly by enhancing internal glycogen stores, delaying synaptic failure during glucose deprivation by maintaining ATP levels, and minimizing the decrease in the levels of NAD(P)H.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • NAD / metabolism
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pyruvic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • NAD
  • NADP
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Glycogen
  • Glucose