Large amounts of energy are required when cells undergo cell proliferation and differentiation for mammalian neuronal development. Early neonatal mice face transient starvation and use stored energy for survival or to support development. Glycogen is a branched polysaccharide that is formed by glucose, and serves as an astrocytic energy store for rapid energy requirements. Although it is present in radial glial cells and astrocytes, the role of glycogen during development remains unclear. In the present study, we demonstrated that glycogen accumulated in glutamate aspartate transporter (GLAST)+ astrocytes in the subventricular zone and rostral migratory stream. Glycogen levels markedly decreased after birth due to the increase of glycogen phosphorylase, an essential enzyme for glycogen metabolism. In primary cultures and in vivo, the inhibition of glycogen phosphorylase decreased the proliferation of astrocytic cells. The number of cells in the G1 phase increased in combination with the up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors or down-regulation of the phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein (pRB), a determinant for cell cycle progression. These results suggest that glycogen accumulates in astrocytes located in specific areas during the prenatal stage and is used as an energy source to maintain normal development in the early postnatal stage.
Keywords: Astrocytes; cell proliferation; glia; glycogen; metabolism.