Revisiting How the Brain Senses Glucose-And Why

Cell Metab. 2019 Jan 8;29(1):11-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.11.001. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Glucose-sensitive neurons have long been implicated in glucose homeostasis, but how glucose-sensing information is used by the brain in this process remains uncertain. Here, we propose a model in which (1) information relevant to the circulating glucose level is essential to the proper function of this regulatory system, (2) this input is provided by neurons located outside the blood-brain barrier (BBB) (since neurons situated behind the BBB are exposed to glucose in brain interstitial fluid, rather than that in the circulation), and (3) while the efferent limb of this system is comprised of neurons situated behind the BBB, many of these neurons are also glucose sensitive. Precedent for such an organizational scheme is found in the thermoregulatory system, which we draw upon in this framework for understanding the role played by brain glucose sensing in glucose homeostasis.

Keywords: blood-brain barrier; brain; glucose-sensing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose