DISC1 regulates lactate metabolism in astrocytes: implications for psychiatric disorders

Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 12;8(1):76. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0123-9.


Our knowledge of how genetic risk variants contribute to psychiatric disease is mainly limited to neurons. However, the mechanisms whereby the same genetic risk factors could affect the physiology of glial cells remain poorly understood. We studied the role of a psychiatric genetic risk factor, Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1), in metabolic functions of astrocytes. We evaluated the effects of knockdown of mouse endogenous DISC1 (DISC1-KD) and expression of a dominant-negative, C-terminus truncated human DISC1 (DN-DISC1) on the markers of energy metabolism, including glucose uptake and lactate production, in primary astrocytes and in mice with selective expression of DN-DISC1 in astrocytes. We also assessed the effects of lactate treatment on altered affective behaviors and impaired spatial memory in DN-DISC1 mice. Both DISC1-KD and DN-DISC1 comparably decreased mRNA and protein levels of glucose transporter 4 and glucose uptake by primary astrocytes. Decreased glucose uptake was associated with reduced oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis as well as diminished lactate production in vitro and in vivo. No significant effects of DISC1 manipulations in astrocytes were observed on expression of the subunits of the electron transport chain complexes or mitofilin, a neuronal DISC1 partner. Lactate treatment rescued the abnormal behaviors in DN-DISC1 male and female mice. Our results suggest that DISC1 may be involved in the regulation of lactate production in astrocytes to support neuronal activity and associated behaviors. Abnormal expression of DISC1 in astrocytes and resulting abnormalities in energy supply may be responsible for aspects of mood and cognitive disorders observed in patients with major psychiatric illnesses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*


  • DISC1 protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glucose