Oligodendrocyte Bioenergetics in Health and Disease

Neuroscientist. 2019 Aug;25(4):334-343. doi: 10.1177/1073858418793077. Epub 2018 Aug 20.


The human brain weighs approximately 2% of the body; however, it consumes about 20% of a person's total energy intake. Cellular bioenergetics in the central nervous system involves a delicate balance between biochemical processes engaged in energy conversion and those responsible for respiration. Neurons have high energy demands, which rely on metabolic coupling with glia, such as with oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. It has been well established that astrocytes recycle and transport glutamine to neurons to make the essential neurotransmitters, glutamate and GABA, as well as shuttle lactate to support energy synthesis in neurons. However, the metabolic role of oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system is less clear. In this review, we discuss the energetic demands of oligodendrocytes in their survival and maturation, the impact of altered oligodendrocyte energetics on disease pathology, and the role of energetic metabolites, taurine, creatine, N-acetylaspartate, and biotin, in regulating oligodendrocyte function.

Keywords: bioenergetics; multiple sclerosis; neurodegeneration; oligodendrocytes; remyelination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*


  • Aspartic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Glucose