Glucose, lactate, and shuttling of metabolites in vertebrate retinas

J Neurosci Res. 2015 Jul;93(7):1079-92. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23583. Epub 2015 Mar 20.


The vertebrate retina has specific functions and structures that give it a unique set of constraints on the way in which it can produce and use metabolic energy. The retina's response to illumination influences its energy requirements, and the retina's laminated structure influences the extent to which neurons and glia can access metabolic fuels. There are fundamental differences between energy metabolism in retina and that in brain. The retina relies on aerobic glycolysis much more than the brain does, and morphological differences between retina and brain limit the types of metabolic relationships that are possible between neurons and glia. This Mini-Review summarizes the unique metabolic features of the retina with a focus on the role of lactate shuttling.

Keywords: Müller cell; astrocyte neuronal lactate shuttle; glia; glucose; lactate shuttle; neuron; photoreceptor; retina.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Vertebrates


  • Lactic Acid
  • Glucose