Current technical approaches to brain energy metabolism

Glia. 2018 Jun;66(6):1138-1159. doi: 10.1002/glia.23248. Epub 2017 Nov 7.


Neuroscience is a technology-driven discipline and brain energy metabolism is no exception. Once satisfied with mapping metabolic pathways at organ level, we are now looking to learn what it is exactly that metabolic enzymes and transporters do and when, where do they reside, how are they regulated, and how do they relate to the specific functions of neurons, glial cells, and their subcellular domains and organelles, in different areas of the brain. Moreover, we aim to quantify the fluxes of metabolites within and between cells. Energy metabolism is not just a necessity for proper cell function and viability but plays specific roles in higher brain functions such as memory processing and behavior, whose mechanisms need to be understood at all hierarchical levels, from isolated proteins to whole subjects, in both health and disease. To this aim, the field takes advantage of diverse disciplines including anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, bioenergetics, cellular biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, neurology, and mathematical modeling. This article presents a well-referenced synopsis of the technical side of brain energy metabolism research. Detail and jargon are avoided whenever possible and emphasis is given to comparative strengths, limitations, and weaknesses, information that is often not available in regular articles.

Keywords: in vitro; in vivo; organization level; spatio-temporal resolution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences / instrumentation
  • Neurosciences / methods*