Higher transport and metabolism of glucose in astrocytes compared with neurons: a multiphoton study of hippocampal and cerebellar tissue slices

Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jan;24(1):222-31. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs309. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


Glucose is the most important energy substrate for the brain, and its cellular distribution is a subject of great current interest. We have employed fluorescent glucose probes, the 2-deoxy-D-glucose derivates 6- and 2-([N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl) amino]-2-deoxy-D-glucose) (2-NBDG), to measure transport and metabolism of glucose in acute slices of mouse hippocampus and cerebellum. In the hippocampus, 6-NBDG, which is not metabolized and hence indicates glucose transport, was taken up faster in astrocyte-rich layers (Stratum radiatum [S.r.], Stratum oriens [S.o.]) than in pyramidal cells. Metabolizable 2-NBDG showed larger signals in S.r. and S.o. than in Stratum pyramidale, suggesting faster glucose utilization rate in the astrocyte versus the neuronal compartment. Similarly, we found higher uptake and temperature-sensitive metabolism of 2-NBDG in Bergmann glia when compared with adjacent Purkinje neurons of cerebellar slices. A comparison between 6-NBDG transport and glucose transport in cultured cells using a fluorescence resonance energy transfer nanosensor showed that relative to glucose, 6-NBDG is transported better by neurons than by astrocytes. These results indicate that the preferential transport and metabolism of glucose by glial cells versus neurons proposed for the hippocampus and cerebellum by ourselves (in vitro) and for the barrel cortex by Chuquet et al. (in vivo) is more pronounced than anticipated.

Keywords: FRET glucose sensor; brain slice; cell culture; energy metabolism; two-photon laser microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan / analogs & derivatives
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Deoxyglucose / analogs & derivatives
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3 / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Slc2a1 protein, mouse
  • Slc2a3 protein, mouse
  • Lactic Acid
  • Deoxyglucose
  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan
  • Glucose
  • 2-(N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino)-2-deoxyglucose