Loss of Brain Aerobic Glycolysis in Normal Human Aging

Cell Metab. 2017 Aug 1;26(2):353-360.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.07.010.


The normal aging human brain experiences global decreases in metabolism, but whether this affects the topography of brain metabolism is unknown. Here we describe PET-based measurements of brain glucose uptake, oxygen utilization, and blood flow in cognitively normal adults from 20 to 82 years of age. Age-related decreases in brain glucose uptake exceed that of oxygen use, resulting in loss of brain aerobic glycolysis (AG). Whereas the topographies of total brain glucose uptake, oxygen utilization, and blood flow remain largely stable with age, brain AG topography changes significantly. Brain regions with high AG in young adults show the greatest change, as do regions with prolonged developmental transcriptional features (i.e., neoteny). The normal aging human brain thus undergoes characteristic metabolic changes, largely driven by global loss and topographic changes in brain AG.

Keywords: aerobic glycolysis; brain aging; brain metabolism; neoteny.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*


  • Glucose